How To Be An Encourager

Recently, the language tutoring company Preply conducted a survey asking some interesting questions.  The first question was how often they shared words of support and affirmation with others.  

Of those polled, 42% said they share words of support with others daily.  I found that number fascinating because it could have been much lower, considering the lack of civility in our current culture.  

The other question that sparked my attention was, "What words or phrases of support or affirmation do you like to hear the most?"  

Overall, three simple phrases topped the list of words they like to hear: “I’m proud of you,” “You’ve got this,” and “I believe in you.”

Following up in fourth, fifth, and sixth place were “You’re doing great,” “I’m here for you,” and “You can do it,” respectively. 

Some readers might recall the book and course accompanying "The 5 Love Languages." The "languages" included Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Deeds of Service, Quality Time, and Receiving Gifts.  

While there very may well be one particular language that we might be drawn to more than the others, I still believe that Words of Affirmation is one language that crosses through to all the others.  

In other words, we all need to hear them.  

If we don't have at least one person who supports and affirms us by telling us, we can grow wary and closed off from the world.  Or we can develop a sense of ourselves that is highly critical.  We can even begin to feel poorly about our work, our lives, and how we believe others perceive us. 

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul touches on the notion of "mutual encouragement," which he describes with his desire to come and visit them in person: 

11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.

A significant part of Paul's idea of mutual encouragement were words of support and affirmation, which he used throughout his letters (even when writing about something uncomfortable).  

As followers of Jesus, we have been given the mission to show the light of Christ to the world, and one of the many ways we can do that is by sharing our words of affirmation with others as often as we can. 

So many people around us simply need to know that they have been seen, and that someone not only cares about them, but also notices the good they are doing in the world.  

Others may be going through some terribly difficult times in their life, facing challenges that we can't possibly imagine.  To them, those words of affirmation could be life-giving and uplifting to the point that they feel their strength to carry on renewed. 

None of us know what others might need to hear, but they will never hear what they need if we don't find the courage and the kindness to say something encouraging.  

Take the time today to think about the people in your life who might need to hear some of the phrases I mentioned above.  Then, after you've though of them, say a prayer tell them of your support and share your affirmation.  

Who knows what the simple act of encouragement might change for them?  You could be the kind of light-bearer they have been longing for. 

May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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