A few weeks ago was Valentine’s day. Since my wife is a teacher, I typically head to the kids’ parties. As I was attending the party of my kindergartner, a girl kept saying with a huge smile, “everyone is being so nice to me.” She was smiling ear to ear because everyone in her class had given her a card. Of course, the rule was to give everyone a card. But it meant everything to this little girl. It reminded me of the power of gifts and encouragement. As adults, we are not forced to hand out valentine’s cards to people we come in contact with, but words of encouragement or gifts can be just as powerful as it was on that little girl smiling in kindergarten. 

Encouragement is Biblical

If you are a Christian, the importance of encouragement shouldn’t surprise you. This is what we see throughout the pages of Scripture. Encouragement is directly associated with the gathering of God’s people (Heb. 10:24-25); it’s highlighted as the type of speech we should have (Eph. 4:29); it’s a command (1 Thess. 5:11). The list could go on, and Biblical references could be added. There is also example after example of encouragement, such as how Paul addresses the churches or the example of Barnabas in Acts 11.

Are you an active encourager?

While it is hard to control how much we are encouraged, we can certainly take steps to encourage others. It can be simply noticing the good in someone and going out of our way to mention it. To do this compliments the person and gives glory to God, from whom all good things flow. It can also take place through being strategic and writing notes of encouragement occasionally. When was the last time you wrote someone a note of encouragement?

We can also encourage by asking for advice. When you notice something admirable, asking the person about it and taking an interest is a way of encouragement. Perhaps it’s a parent who had to correct their child in church. You can ask how they can remain calm in the situation, the approaches they take to correct, etc. Learning and applying wisdom from others is often more powerful than merely telling them you appreciate something. 

Are you hesitant?

Unfortunately, we can have the attitude that we can’t contribute to someone’s pride by saying nice things about them. This is shortsighted for a couple of reasons. First, we are not responsible for how people take our encouragement. We are simply responsible for being an encourager. Imagine if a server withheld food from someone because the customer might overeat. That would be ridiculous. 

Second, we tend to dwell on the negative and neglect the positive. I don’t think there is an overabundance of encouragement today but a shortage – particularly in-person and intentional encouragement. Pride is much more a result of someone fishing for a compliment on social media than randomly encountering one in real life.

Who can you encourage today?

Who is that person you can encourage today? Right now. Who is the one that might need it, like the little girl in my child’s class? Perhaps God will use you today to produce a smile from ear to ear.