Last night we had a gathering at a park. It was so much fun! A bunch of the guys played volleyball, the big kids got a soccer game going, and all the littles enjoyed the playground equipment. The rest of us visited, in between chasing escaping toddlers.
As I reflected back on the evening, it struck me once again that we need each other. We need both encouragement and comfort in our spiritual journeys.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-2). Here’s the thing: most likely everyone you know needs both encouragement and comfort.
How can you become great at encouraging and comforting others?
Listen. Learning to listen is a lifelong skill, but it is the best way to offer tangible comfort to others. Drawing out the stories of others, sitting with them, and really focusing on hearing their hearts, takes practice. But, it is such a worthwhile pursuit. Asking a few questions and creating the space to offer your unhurried self are the keys. With all the stress people are carrying today, they need to process. You offer a precious gift when you allow someone to process with you.
Cheer. I listened to two of my granddaughters at the park on the climbing structure. The older (5) encouraged her younger sister (2) who was trying to navigate the climbing apparatus, cheering, “You’ve got this Melody! I believe in you!” I love that. It made me smile!
When I think of great encouragers, I think of the people who have cheered me on in my calling. I’m convinced that everyone needs a few good cheerleaders in their life. People who believe in them and instill confidence. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a few people in your life who cheered you on in your parenting journey, when you’re navigating a transition, or when you’re taking on a new project at work?
Affirm. Honestly, there are enough critics in the world today. Instead, choose to affirm others. Look intentionally for what they are doing well and then affirm them. Paul was a cheerleader for the believers in Thessalonica, but he also affirmed them. He writes to his friends, “We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accept it.” He goes on to write, “You became imitators of God’s churches in Judea” (1 Thessalonians 2:12 and 14). Paul believed in his friends, cheered them on, and affirmed them.
Pray. Make it your habit to pray for your friends and family. I love the prayer that Paul prays for the Thessalonian believers, “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).
If you want to be a good friend to others, encourage them in their walk, listen, cheer, affirm, and pray!
Please pray this Thursday, August 18th. I’ll be speaking for Salem Radio’s Women in Ministry Luncheon. Please pray that I can encourage those who are in ministry!