Be an encourager
I don't know about you, but my confidence grows when someone lets me know that I am doing something well. My self-esteem increases when people let me know how what I am doing is making a difference. Author, speaker, and pastor John Maxwell suggests that encouragement is 51% of leadership, and that a key role for those of us in leadership is to give people hope, to build them up and help them believe in themselves, in a greater measure than they have before. People go further than they ever thought they could when someone else encourages them and has belief in their abilities.
I was taken recently with a quote attributed to Anne Frank: “Everyone has inside them a piece of good news” and this got me thinking; what might it look like if every day, I sought to share a piece of good news, an encouragement with someone else? How might my life be different? How might church be different if rather than of identifying the faults, the problems and the gaps in our resources, each of us sought to draw out the positives and encourage one another?
I love the character Barnabas, who we first encounter in Acts 4. His parents named him Joseph, but he was such an inspiration that those who knew him started calling him by the nickname of Barnabas ‘Son of Encouragement.’ I find it interesting that though the Bible does not obviously record the words that Barnabas said, he is described as an example worthy to follow. So how might we each become a little more like Barnabas each day? Allow me to offer some simple steps:
- My letterbox at home gets filled full of magazines, bills, & junk mail, yet when I see a handwritten note, that's almost always the one I open first. One of the most effective ways to encourage someone is a simple note telling them that you’re thinking of them, & praying for them.
- Celebrate the small stuff. Celebrating small wins allows people to recognise progress which encourages people to keep going; the act of celebrating, even something as small as a high five or a fist pump, releases brain chemicals that give people, energy, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and alertness.
- Intentionally create a tick-list where you will encourage one person every day until it becomes a habit. Criticising comes far more naturally to us than encouraging.
- Publically praise, privately correct and critique. Get known as a person who always sees the best; the first one to point out something, however small, of which we can all be proud of.
When we encourage people, we are letting them know we see what they have done, and by extension, believe what they will be able to do in the future; and that improves their belief in themselves and their potential. Encouragement doesn’t have to mean that everything is perfect, or that there isn’t room for growth and improvement. But it does show that there is a foundation to build from.
Perhaps the words of Barnabas’ co-worker might serve as an inspiration for each of us.
“So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 The Message