Never underestimate the power of affirmation and encouragement.
My friend Trent and I recently ran a race together. We signed up for two different distances, so our competitions didn’t coincide. He finished well before I did, so I assumed he had left. It was a cold and windy day after all.
As I neared the finish line I was completely spent, ready to give up. I had given it my all and was in quite a lot of pain. I had about half of a mile left but it felt like twenty miles were ahead in my mind.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Trent. He cheered me on. He reminded me that the finish line was just around the corner. I picked up my pace. I thought, “I can do this.”
As I rounded the corner I saw my wife and two boys at the finish line, cheering me to the end. (Side note: my favorite moment was that my oldest son actually hopped the barricade and ran the last tenth of a mile with me to the finish line.)
Never underestimate the power of affirmation and encouragement. Cheers in the race are potent and life-giving. I’m sure you’ve experienced this in a variety of ways.
I want to remind us of the command to encourage one another in Hebrews 10:25. I want to connect it to two kinds of opportunities.
The first opportunity relates to those who are undergoing a trial (which pretty much includes everyone). This past Sunday we gave opportunity during our corporate gathering to express the pain that comes with trial. Some chose to do that privately in their seat. Others chose to come forward and kneel at the steps which are connected to the stage upfront. It was a reminder that many are hurting, and you could observe specific individuals expressing that in the room.
Hurting people often feel all alone. As in a race, they are putting one foot in front of the other, not sure they can go another step. Your words of encouragement would be a powerful push forward. Offering to pray with them or simply listen over a cup of coffee might be the kindest gesture they have received in a long time.
You may be aware of someone who is hurting in your own circle of relationships. Or, maybe you noticed someone go forward or express grief right there in their seat on Sunday morning. Take a step this week and encourage them in some way (without using the phrase, “Count it all joy” – you had to hear the sermon if you don’t know what I mean).
The second opportunity relates to awesome people. I’ve concluded that typically, awesome people don’t know they are awesome. Here is what I mean: there was a time I evaluated my own practice of affirmation and encouragement and I realized I never affirmed those whom I put on the pedestal of awesome. I figured they knew what a great job they were doing and didn’t need to hear affirmation. I was wrong. I’ve come to recognize that they simply don’t know they are awesome and struggle to know how well they are doing or if their ministry is making an impact. Tell awesome people they are awesome.
It could be someone who does little tasks faithfully every week. It could be someone who does big tasks every week. It could be someone who is an encouragement to you in how they share their faith, how they pray, how they listen, how they work hard week in and week out, or how they raise their children. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you notice it as a job well done then let them know. They probably need to hear it.
Your words of affirmation and encouragement could make a huge difference today in someone’s life. Pull the trigger and encourage someone.