Yesterday I announced this month's daily series: 30 Days of Encouragement! I suppose it's a bit misleading. While I hope the blosts (rhymes with ghosts and is my hybrid word for blog posts) are uplifting, the primary purpose of the series will be to lead us in thinking about how we can be people who encourage others.
To discuss any topic, it helps to begin by defining terms. For this series, then, we must define encouragement. My first stop for definitions is usually a dictionary. Here's what the internet offers:
noun: encouragement; plural noun: encouragements
the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope
That about sums up what I would say encouragement is. Often we need encouragement when we're down, grieving, facing a challenge, or feeling hopeless. We need someone to come alongside us to say, "Keep going! I'm on your side! You can do it! I love you and believe in you!" Or we need someone to simply sit beside us and say those things with their presence rather than words. Maybe you remembered, with deep gratitude, people doing this for you when you did yesterday's "assignment," thinking of people who have encouraged you over the years,
Christian encouragement takes encouragement to another level, though, because the support, confidence, and hope come not from ourselves, but from the eternal, unchangeable God at work in us to point another human to Christ. In preparation for Saturday's talk in Illinois, I reread a book that was given to me a few years back called: Encouragement: the Key to Caring by Larry Crabb and Dan Allender. (Now the title is Encouragement: the Unexpected Power of Building Others Up.) They suggest, The final goal of encouragement is to move people along in their walk with Christ. Wow. Doesn't that speak of something far greater than simply a pat on the back or a quick kind word?
With that goal in mind, I think of encouragement coming from the depths - the depths of the well of God's Word and the power of His Spirit - and speaking into the depths of the person being encouraged. I also think, Holy cow! This is quite a task. I want to be a real and true source of encouragement to those around me for the Lord's sake, but I have so much to learn and will need a lot of practice!
This series is a chance for us to do those things: learn the "how-tos" of encouragement and put them into practice. So today, I leave you with this Biblical definition of encouragement:
encouragement: the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope that is grounded in Christ and points them to Him
That kind of encouragement can change people's lives!
See you tomorrow, friends. Till then, keep your eyes and hearts open for opportunities God provides today for you to encourage another!