By LAURA LEE LEATHERS
I was encouraged and then discouraged within minutes. Have you ever had a similar experience?
Last year at a writer’s conference, I had the opportunity to meet with a publishing representative and make a pitch for a book idea. In our conversation, she wrote on a piece of paper, “This is good and needed.” Then she signed her name, handed me the note, and instructed me to discuss the book idea with the publisher and show him her note.
I did. His reply — It’s not needed.
I had a choice: to wallow in the hole of discouragement, or to take the advice of seasoned writers and look at the “rejection as God’s redirection.” I chose the latter.
The truth is, every person needs encouragement as they journey through life. How can you and I become encouragers?
The Source of all encouragement
In a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley entitled “Our Great Encourager,” he says, “The word ‘encourage’ means to come along beside someone, help strengthen, listen, inspire and motivate.”
The Bible is all about encouragement, from Genesis to Revelation.
Depending on the Bible translation you’re reading, the words “encourage” and “comfort” are used interchangeably. They come from the same Greek word, “parakalesis” or “parakelein.”
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:4, ESV
All scripture is of spiritual benefit (2 Timothy 3:15-17). The Bible teaches us how to live and endure, and encourages us in our journey, whatever life unfolds.
Second Corinthians 1:3-4 calls God “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” And He is the God of all encouragement. He has given us His Word; scripture is where we find hope in Christ, rest in His promises, and find strength in our weaknesses. Do you want encouragement? Go to the Bible first.
Study biblical examples
Joshua received encouragement from Moses (Deuteronomy 1:38). Jesus encouraged His disciples (read the gospels). Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement,” encouraged the church and Paul (Acts 11:19-26). The Bible gives us many examples and shows us the importance of building up one another.
When the Word is in us, we encourage others by sharing the Good News. We can encourage others by offering hope, faith, love and wisdom. Remember, God is our greatest encourager.
Encourage one another
Think about the person who encourages you. As Christ followers, we can’t ignore God’s command to encourage fellow believers.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV
How did the early church encourage one another? They were hospitable, demonstrated love and patience, served one another, were kind and tenderhearted, shared material possessions, and prayed for one another.
Today, we can encourage one another through some of the following:
◼ Write a letter or send a card
◼ Call, send a text message or send an email
◼ Pray scripture
◼ Offer sincere compliments
◼ Provide helpful information
◼ Sing songs of encouragement
◼ Encourage with applicable scripture for an individual’s situation
◼ Gift a devotional book or journal
This list is not comprehensive; it gives you a few ideas.
The ministry of encouragement
Almost 15 years ago, through my ministry of Tea Time Treasures, subscribers to the newsletter received a weekly email offering a verse of scripture, a Bible passage to read, and a prayer. The goal was to encourage women to stop, enjoy a cup of tea and read “A Cup of Encouragement.”
Today I’ve reconstructed that concept based on the acronym CUP: Counsel your heart with God’s Word, Understand the passage, and Praise and prayer.
Also, I created “Teacups, Mugs, and Friends,” a private Facebook group where women are encouraged to “Dwell in God’s Word and Flourish in His Grace.” (See bio for additional information.)
Over the years, I’ve learned that the most significant source of encouragement I can give is God’s Word. His Word doesn’t return void and has the power to transform lives. He has called me to share His Word through various writing platforms.
I keep that note from the publishing representative above my computer because it brings encouragement. It makes me smile as I remember that meeting; my idea was good — it just wasn’t God’s timing, or with that publisher — and I need to persevere.
Meanwhile, with pen in hand, I am a scribe for Him, writing about the importance of pouring His truth into your soul. I hope you are encouraged today. It’s time for tea; won’t you join me!
Laura Lee Leathers loves to touch lives and encourage others through words and biblical hospitali-tea. She is an award-winning freelance writer, encouragement coach and speaker, and a contributing writer for several newspapers, magazines and online publications. Connect with her at LauraLeeLeathers.com or email@example.com, or join her Facebook group, “Teacups, Mugs, and Friends.”