Four small words. Ten letters in all. But they carry a tremendous power. I watched Samuel’s face change, and his efforts double in response. “You can do it!” was what I said. And that was enough to transform him from someone asking for something to be done into a person believing in his ability. And it doesn’t take a great deal, simply to express “you’re doing well,” or “hang in there”. The impact on another can be amazing.
The power of encouragement. With a few well-chosen words we can help someone get up off the canvass of life and begin again. …Or we can cut them off at the knees. It is truly remarkable to consider that such power is held within our lips. By nurturing an encouraging spirit we can propel others to greater heights, or to further endeavours.
It is typically Australian to withhold encouragement, lest someone end up with a big head. We silently appreciate the work and efforts of people, sometimes expressing it to others, but rarely to the person themselves. We need to consider the impact of such a mean-spirited attitude towards the efforts of others.
On more than one occasion, Paul exhorts christians to “encourage one another”. The reflections of a modern writer give us an insight into why: “Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble the world knows nothing about, need only a bit of praise or encouragement - and we will make the goal”. We are more wont to correct people when they make mistakes, but there is greater power in encouragement. Both have their place. But consider the life of another in the same manner as a plant. Were we to spend much time pruning and little time watering and feeding, the plant would never achieve its potential. The water and sunshine of encouragement is essential to the full blossoming of our personalities and potential.
Take a moment and consider those who have helped us stretch to greater heights. It is usually someone who has believed in us, and encouraged us to stretch that little bit further; or someone who affirmed something good in us.
We affirm that children need encouragement. We are all children of God! May we be a people on the lookout for ways to encourage each other.
February 4, 2001
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