The Gift of Encouragement
How do you identify someoneTruett Cathy
who needs encouragement? That person is breathing.
Encouragement, affirmation, and hope are the main ingredients for making someone feel heard, understood, and valuable. If you are going to say anything to someone hurting, let it bring hope to these things! Resist at all costs the temptation to give advice, opinions, or enlightenment.
Soul-to-soul connection happens when we are present, attentive, and listening. We can change lives when we affirm, encourage, and bring hope. Even Sigmund Freud discovered that symptoms of emotional distress could sometimes be relieved simply by talking in certain ways to his patients.
God agrees and says this about the power of encouragement:
~ “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21).
~ “Anxiety weighs down the heart, / but a kind word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25).
~ “The soothing tongue is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4).
~ “Gracious words are … / sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).
He goes on to say: “It is a mistake to think of encouragement as a set of specific words or phrases. Encouragement depends less on which words we use than on the motivation behind them. Words that encourage are (1) inspired by love, and (2) directed toward fear. These two conditions must be met for words to encourage.”
Crabb also says that we must discipline ourselves to be slow to speak, to be sensitive to the needs and problems of the person with whom we are speaking, and to speak gently with the purpose of reducing fear. Then we must avoid responding to people in ways that communicate a rejection of what they are sharing. We must not defend, apologize, attack, correct, or offer quick advice.
Encourage with these three responses:
- Find something specific about their story or who they are to affirm.
- Give Hope:
- Help them envision a better future. (Remember with God all things are possible.)
- Let them know you can be available for them, or help them find other resources.