Be A Person of Encouragement

DSC09282A 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)

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Girl Power

DSC04512This past weekend, I took my Girl Scout troop to a nearby state park to try their skills at the Tuckahoe Challenge Course.  The course consists of a 50 foot high rock climbing wall that leads to a 300 foot long zip line, a spring swing that drops a person from a 70 foot height, and a 15 foot high fireman’s pole from which the climber needs to stand and jump to a bar swing in order to get down.  My girls, ages 12 to 19, were told that a Boy Scout troop had visited the day before, and only one boy made it over the wall.  Of course, this spurred my girls on and laid down the challenge for all of them to do their best to make it over the wall to the zip line on the other side.

Morgan was the first in our troop to attempt the climb.  The other DSC04431girls marveled at the way the muscles in her legs bulged as she made her ascent.  A couple of times, she lost her grip or became confused about which way to go, but her friends on the ground cheered her on, guided her steps, and encouraged her in her climb.  Within about five minutes, Morgan lifted her legs over the wall, stood on the platform on the other side, and looked down triumphantly at the cheering girls below.  They all basked in the glow of her achievement.

Not all of the girls had an easy time.  Morgan’s best friend ended up in tears about halfway up and announced that she was letting go so that she could be eased down to the ground, but her friends at the bottom would have no part of that.  “You can do it,” they called to her; and through tears, she plowed on until she reached the top.  The victory was not only hers but every girl yelling and cheering for her from the ground.  In the end, every one of the eleven girls who decided to tackle the wall made it over.  Three chose to climb the rope ladder to the top, no easy task in itself, and their friends stood below them and cheered them on as well.  I’m sure that the squeals of delight as the girls flew through the air on that zip line could be heard throughout the park that morning.

DSC04463The girls went on to do the rope swing where they had to all work as a team to hoist each girl into the air.  The harder the girls pulled together, the higher the girl went up into the trees.  From there, the girls moved on to the fireman’s pole.  As they stood at the bottom of the pole, they again DSC04519cheered on their friends, marveling at their agility in climbing to the top, standing on the pole, and jumping to the swing.

Of course, I have to admit that I was pretty darn proud of all of the girls on Saturday.  I was amazed by their determination and inspired by their confidence.  What I am most proud of, and what left the biggest impression on me, was the way they cheered for and encouraged each other.  Most of all, I was in awe of the way they stood together and supported each other.  These wonderful girls proved to be more than a Troop, more than friends, more than average teenage girls.  These girls were inspiring and empowering.  Never before have I been so proud as a mother, Troop Leader, and human being.  If only all people could aspire to greater heights and encourage each other the way my girls did on Saturday, think of all that we could accomplish in this world.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com