To learn what this series is all about, start here.
Hurray! It's time to get into the "how" of encouraging one another! Over the next three days I will present to you a framework for becoming an encourager. For today, however, I'd like you to consider how much you already know about encouraging others. Stop for a moment and think about or write down what encourages you.
I mean it, take a moment to pause and think about that. Could be people's presence, words, advice, prayers, etc. What really encourages you and gives you the push you need to be brave and keep going?
Alright, now I have a challenge question for you:
Are you making an effort to (at least)
encourage others the way YOU feel encouraged?
Sometimes we get lost in our own navel gazing. We feel desperate for someone to come alongside us and lift us up, so we start to wallow. In the midst of our self-pity party, we miss the call to draw near to God and consider others. We miss out on letting the Lord lift us up, and we neglect our responsibility to encourage one another. I know; I've been there, too.
When we moved to our town a little over two years ago, I did not have many friends. We had a great church to attend, but I was getting into one of those "no body cares about us or wants to know us" slumps. My husband was very busy with his new job, and while I have testimony of how incredibly God sustained us through that first semester, I still got lonely sometimes. I desperately wanted people to invite us over for lunch or dinner or something, but that was not happening. Then I was reminded of something Sally Clarkson often has said: Everywhere they moved, she always had to start something to create the fellowship she longed for. She almost always had to make the first move to build relationships.
Sunday mornings seemed like such a terrible time to try to get to know people. So I spoke with a friend at church who had consistently taken very good care of us, and she helped me plan a Women's Tea at our house. I asked the church secretary to put a note in the bulletin. I stood up during announcements in the service and said, "Hey, I'm a stranger to most of you, but I need some friends. Please come over so we can get to know each other."
Forty women came that Saturday!! We'll be having our third annual women's tea in a couple of weeks.
Wallowing feels good for a time. I love to be a martyr, friends. Not proud of that, but it's true. Choosing God's way, however, sets us free! As a bonus, often He uses our taking the time to encourage another to encourage us, too. I have the testimony of forty women coming to that first tea to prove it.
No matter your situation, and perhaps especially considering your situation right now, think back to that first question about what really encourages you. That list shows how much you already know about encouragement! Would you be brave today and make a point to do one of those encouraging things for someone else? Let God use you, where you are right now, to encourage another in his/her walk with the Lord. I look forward to hearing about it sometime!