Who has been one of your most important encouragers?
For some of us, the encouragement that God provided through someone else has been the critical link between what we were doing and what we are doing now.
Henri Nouwen tells the story of a sculptor whose studio was next door to the home of a little boy. One day, a big flatbed truck pulled up to the studio and delivered an enormous block of marble. The big front doors to the studio opened and the marble was wheeled up to the studio. The little boy, playing in his front yard, followed the workers into the studio to see what would happen. A few days later, he watched as the sculptor took his hammer and chisel and began to chip away at the piece of stone. The boy eventually lost interest and went away. A couple of weeks later, the boy went back into the studio and then to his amazement, he saw no longer a big chunk of stone but in its final phase a beautiful carved lion. The boy was amazed and said, “How did you know there was a lion in that marble?”
Many people just need someone who believes there is a lion inside that block of marble. The following are four ways to encourage:
1. Communicate words of encouragement. Some people have been the victims of cruel and hurtful words. These may have been cruel names or vile words directed at another. Other people have been hurt by the silence of significant people. You can encourage others through words that affirm, compliment, and communicate worth.
2. Express the high value of another person. My friend described an older gentleman this way: “He talks to you as if you were a very important person. He makes you want to come up to a higher standard.” Communicate to another just how important he or she is to you.
3. Be fully present when you are with another. Many of us regularly interact with a lot of people. Yet, when you are in a conversation, you can only be fully present with one person. Pay attention to another even if you are with this person for only ten minutes. Active listening, eye contact, and paying attention communicates volumes to another person.
4. Picture a special future for another. It is important to communicate to another that you believe in her and that you think she has a future. One person said this about her encourager: “He encourages me to do things that I would never have done without his encouragement.”
Who has encouraged you? How did this person encourage you?