Everyone Needs a Little Encouragement
by Shelly Esser
I recently took my 12-year-old daughter to the bank so she could make a deposit in her savings account. Having not ever done it herself before, I told her how to fill out the deposit form and had her do it. In the process a man next to us said, “I don’t believe what I’m seeing,” and went on and on about how wonderful it was that I was teaching her how to do her finances.
He asked Anna how she earned her money and she said she babysat and cleaned. As he left he turned to us and said, “You two have made my day – you are doing a wonderful job!” I made his day? He made mine. Whoever would have thought that a little outing to the bank would generate such encouragement for my soul – and from a complete stranger?
The whole incident got me thinking about just how hungry most of us are for a little daily encouragement in our lives. How often do we think or observe good things about someone, or their ministry, or their impact on us but never take the time to tell them?
Had this man never said anything to me, I would have just left another ordinary stop at the bank. Instead he filled up my soul – and I didn’t realize how desperately I needed it until he spoke those uplifting words.
Encouragement is a way for us to feed other’s souls spiritually. It’s that word, look, or note that says, “I notice you, I care about you, and what you’re doing is significant – it matters.”
Especially as leaders, we need to be cheering on those we are leading. While what we do is all about catching the look of the Master, I think what others do also needs to catch our look. The Apostle Paul certainly modeled this. I find it interesting that in the early church, special agents of encouragement were actually sent out into the churches for that sole intent. In Ephesians 6:22, Paul tells the congregation, “I am sending him (Tychicus) to you for this very purpose…that he may encourage you.” In 1 Thess. 3:2, Paul says, “We sent Timothy to strengthen and encourage you in your faith.” Paul had a great desire that the flock be encouraged, and we need to have that same desire for the women in our lives as well. Their souls need it. Many of us are in positions where encouragement comes our way that really isn’t ours alone, but also belongs to our team. Whenever someone sends in an uplifting letter about our ministry, I send it on to other team members who have had a huge part in making all we’re doing possible. It can’t stop at the top – it needs to filter down regularly. In fact, Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily.” How am I daily encouraging those God has entrusted to my care?
The Christian life and ministry are long and hard, and our souls get battered in the process. Overshadowing the work of ministry is the enemy aiming his discouragement at every turn. Encouragement is our opportunity to fight those arrows of discouragement in other’s lives. So often we only hear the complaints, and after awhile those comments can level us. Why not look at what is lovely, admirable, praiseworthy, or excellent (Phil. 4:8)? Let’s notice the great things others are doing. We need to be generous with our acts of encouragement because others need it.
Several weeks ago, I was having an email exchange with a ministry friend and I ended my letter to her with a couple of sentences that I didn’t even think about. She later told me that it made her cry and lifted her soul. I was so surprised by her response. The Holy Spirit hugged her soul that day. Encouragement does that in a powerful way. It gives people the will to continue, it provides the hope and courage to go on.
That stranger in the bank will never know how much he fed my thirsty soul. His words built me up and not only made my day, but my week! Hebrews 10:25 tells us to “encourage one another.” Whose soul does God want you to hug today?