A few years ago, I read a book called Magnetic Christianity by radio host and inspirational speaker, Gus Lloyd. I was reminded, while listening to Gus’ program yesterday morning, of his last chapter which is on encouragement. I’ve actually been thinking about this word a lot lately. What is encouragement? How can we be people of encouragement? And why do we want to be?
To encourage or give encouragement is “to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.” It’s more than merely giving a pat on the back or simply saying good job. It’s the act of inspiring someone, of uplifting their spirit, of boosting their confidence. Those are pretty lofty aspirations, if you ask me. Think about it – giving encouragement to someone could actually make a difference in a person’s life. You could be the catalyst that allows someone to feel victory instead of defeat, success instead of failure, or become the person they were meant to be.
My daughter, Katie, has a fabulous assistant tennis coach. When one of the kids is doing something wrong or making mistakes that affect their game, she doesn’t point out what they’re doing wrong. She encourages them to do what is right. She describes a better way, a more skilled approach, or path to improvement. She believes that by encouraging the player and showing him or her how to improve upon what they are already doing right is they best way to teach them to win. And she’s right every time.
A teacher who encourages students to do their best will always be more successful than a teacher who consistently points out what a student does wrong. Encouragement isn’t the absence of correction but the enabling of confidence through positivity. A child doesn’t learn through negative reinforcement. He rebels or shuts down. But I’m sure we’ve all witnessed what happens to a child who meets that one teacher, coach, or mentor who lifts her up with encouragement and shows her that she matters and can succeed.
The same can be said in the workplace. According to a recent study by the University of California, people who are positive are more successful, less likely to be unemployed, healthier, and live longer. It further found that positivity at work can lead to more engaged and resilient employees. Psychologist, Sarah Lewis, in explaining the findings to CNN said, “[When] people enter a more positive space they become more willing to take risks and make comments,” she said “they go into the more difficult conversations and they’re more productive.” What employee wouldn’t want that in his workplace? And encouragement should go both ways, from the employer as well as the employee.
The key word in the definition of encouragement is “spirit.” When someone has lost their spirit, they have lost a bit of themselves, perhaps forever. The death of one’s spirit can be the death of any positive outlook they may have for the rest of their life. But to encourage one’s spirit, to make someone feel good about themselves, to boost their confidence, to help them to see the good that is within, can be life-changing. We should all strive to be persons of encouragement. This means:
- Point out and reinforce the good in an effort to fix the bad. People are always more receptive to the positive.
- Do not lie or spread rumors about others. This harms both your spirit and theirs.
- Do not tear down others. Show them, in a kind and loving way, how they can be or do better.
- Offer assistance to those you see struggling, whether it is of the mind, body, or soul.
- And smile. Show others that no matter what you, yourself, may be facing and no matter what troubles they may have, there is always a reason to smile. It’s the easiest way to begin your journey toward living a life of encouragement. It may even change the way you look at yourself.
I guarantee that when you become a person of encouragement, you will not only change the lives of those you encourage, but you will become a changed person yourself. So go out there and be a positive influence. I know you can do it!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflited, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement.” -2 Corinthians 1: 3-8
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is now available for pre-order.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015)