Learn more about this series here.
Over the last two days I've been offering a framework for how we can grow to be people who encourage one another, using words that being with A: Attitude and Availability to minister. Today we find ourselves at the final A, Attention. In order to encourage one another, we have to pay attention for opportunities to encourage. In the busyness of life and the hustle and bustle of even the most mundane chores, it is easy to miss the cues that indicate that a person before us or on on mind needs to be encouraged: a child, our spouse, a friend, a neighbor, maybe even the mailman!
|Sally Clarkson, a woman who has spoken much encouragement into my life,|
through books and times together, not matter how brief!
Being the type who likes structure, I have two points for you on Attention, just as I did with Attitude and Availability. So orderly, right?! Here it goes; the first one may spark a little deja vu, since I'm starting the same as yesterday.
Listen to the Spirit: The Spirit is God with us all the time. Tuning the ears of our hearts to hear when He is leading will help us to avoid missing out on opportunities to minister. The Spirit's still small voice or figurative kick in the shins can get our attention. And like I said yesterday, the more often we take action on those cues, the easier it is to both hear and obey the next time. We can beging by praying for a sensitivity to the Spirit's movement: Lord, today make me aware. By your Spirit, make me pay attention, since I am not in the habit. And let grow to be one who is always on the lookout for ministry opportunities that come my way.
Has the Lord been placing on your heart the idea of starting a new relationship, deepening and older one, or getting a new activity going. Now might be the time to take action! Encouragement is needed all around, let's pay attention to the Spirit's leading so we don't miss opportunities.
Listen to What People are Really Saying: This is the real nitty gritty of encouragement. A LOT of encouragement has to do with words, what we say. Crabb and Allender argue that encouraging words are motivated by love and directed at the hearer's fear. We can learn a lot about another person by asking good questions and probing with caring, (skills you can learn more about in the the book Encouragement: the Unexpected Power of Building Others Up). As we listen carefully with attention to what someone is saying when we are speaking with them, letting their mood and the body language speak to us even more than the words, we will find inroads for encouraging them.
Crabb and Allender we can encourage someone with "the careful selection of words that are intended to influence another person meaningfully toward increased godliness." Obviously, we need the Spirit and to develop some skills to do this well, but starting today we can "own our influence," as Sally Clarkson says, and take a leap to offer words to another for the express purpose of encouragement. Please note that encouragement is not solving another's problems; it is pushing them into God's arms, the One who can change their life!
This is your invitation to get started! Pay attention this very day and week for opportunities to minster encouragement to another. Maybe it will feel a little bumbling at first, but if your are motivated by love and your words directed at the other's fears, your efforts will be appreciated, or more. I look forward to hearing your stories!