When thinking about what encourages you, think about the parts of the word: en + courage. To encourage someone is to empower them to take action, to help them be brave, to give them a nudge toward greater strength.
What makes you brave? Maybe for many of us, it’s all of the words and small actions that add up to showing love. When we know we are loved and accepted, we are more likely to be brave. Encouragement helps us to take action in the face of fear. When I think of what encouragement looks like in action, I think of specific people.
- I think of two ladies that go to my church. They are there early, and they hug and greet and have a kind word for everyone that comes through the doors.
- I think of an older couple from the church I went to in college—they also had warm words for everyone, but I also remember several occasions when I was feeling down, or lonely, they invited me out to lunch after the church service.
- I think of a friend and colleague who is quick to send flowers or hand deliver them whenever one of her friends is having a rough time.
- I think of my mother, who regularly sends “thinking of you” and “thank you” and “friendship” cards to lots of family and friends.
- I think of the joy of an uninterrupted visit with a friend who is a good listener.
- I think of my husband surprising me by cooking dinner or having picked up the perfect little thing that I needed.
- THE BONUS: I think of my friend who is pursuing a wild and fun creative dream. I am not going to call it a cray dream, because it’s not. She is making it a reality step, by step, action by action. Her pursuit of this dream lights her up and challenges her to be brave. Seeing her be brave, makes me want to be brave. I’m encouraged to take action in my life.
We can emulate these actions, can’t we? To be more encouraging to others, let’s all follow the lead of these examples! That means we will:
- Speak to others. Greet them—show we are happy to see them. It’s not necessary to say something profound!
- Ask someone out on friend date. Treat someone to lunch. If you are feeling lonely or like you are “not enough” to take on this task, ask God to show you someone who needs a friend, and go from there.
- Send flowers or hand deliver a single flower to a friend who is having a rough day. Not into flowers? Hand deliver a homemade muffin, or a magazine or an uplifting book. Share something that shows you were thinking about them.
- Keep a stash of uplifting cards and send some.
- Practice being a good listener. You may think you need to have good advice or wisdom when someone pours out their soul to you, but often, just having someone to listen is the biggest gift.
- Surprise your significant other or a good friend with a small service or treat.
- The BONUS: Taking creative action toward a dream may seem like it only has to do with you—you might even feel selfish doing it, because many times following a personal creative dream involves a lot of time alone. However, it’s very powerful when others see you move and take action through, your fear. When we see a brave example, we become brave. We are encouraged—en + couraged.
As we try out these actions of encouragers, we may find that we have our own “style” or language of encouragement. We may find some new ways to encourage others that aren’t on my list—it’s definitely not a conclusive list. That is wonderful, and I hope we all discover lots of different ways to be encouragers, but most of all, I hope that we all begin to recognize and take steps toward that creative dream and know that our personal bravery is helping someone else take a step forward.