I love basketball. I’ve played since I was a young boy. I would spend hours upon hours every day playing and practicing. I was actually a decent player. And now my boy Caleb, who is 6, has begun to play. I actually feel qualified to teach him some things about the game. We go to our hoop and work on dribbling and layups and different aspects of the game.
Just a few days ago, I saw him out playing by himself. I noticed his improvement. I decided I would tell him. I shouted from my garage, “Man, Caleb, you really are getting better! That’s awesome!”
I expected him to turn to me, set down the ball & slow clap in my direction. I expected “Father, I give you all credit for your masterful tutelage. You have inspired me with your words and actions and have proven to be a greater example in the sport that Lebron James. For that, I applaud and thank you.”
Instead…without stopping his play, he shout “I know dad!”
I thought I would be offended by that. But I realized, his attitude was not arrogance. It was confidence. And it was because I had been the encouragement he needed. When we offer accurate words of affirmation, challenge others to be better, and get out on the court and make ourselves present…then we encourage.
You are an encourager when people being around you results in their faith and confidence growing. Encouragement builds healthy self-esteem. It enables people to live with themselves despite their human frailties and imperfections. At the same time, it provides the power needed to make significant changes in personality and behavior. The goal is not self-satisfaction but self-acceptance during a lifetime of spiritual growth. Encouragers see discouraged people and reminds them of who God says that He is and who God says that they are.
When we walk out of the loving fellowship of God’s family, we move into “savage territory.” In that realm we can be easily intimidated. The family of God is not a place for verbal putdowns, sarcastic jabs, critical comment, and harsh judgments. We get enough of that everywhere else. The church is a place we need to assemble for the purpose of being encouraged.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”
And we need the encouragers to be louder. Don’t you find it sad that critical & discouraging people are often the loudest in every room. When we have something good to say, SAY IT! Speak up and speak out…and bring LIFE (rooted in the Gospel of Jesus) to the discouraged.