Encouraging Words

encouragement signOur teen years may have been pretty tough…From internal pressures to being accepted and liked, fears of rejection, hormones, desires, demands, etc…All of it was a bit much…but we got through it.

What helped you get through those years?  Was it academics or sports?  Family or friends?

For me, it was God blessing me through the encouraging words of others. These encouraging words were, in fact, life changing in many respects. I’d like to highlight two people in my life who spoke encouraging words. This is not to diminish the impact of others who have spoken into my life at all (parents, best friends who have listened and shared, etc.), but as I sit and write, these two come to mind.  Honestly, I don’t think these two know the impact of their words on my life. In fact, they may not even remember their words at all.  But to me, their kind words and words of hope were a part of God’s plan.

The first bits of encouragement I presently recall came from my sister.  It was during a time when I was feeling down and depressed and contemplating taking my life.  To be frank, I don’t remember her words to me exactly and I didn’t share with her all my thoughts.  But I remember her encouragement to me that I will get a girlfriend, grow taller, get thinner, etc. Really, she gave me words of hope that kept me going so I would not give up and hold onto just a little bit longer.  I listened and believed these words of hope…

One other bit of encouragement I received was in the form of a compliment from a fellow youth group member, Kathy.  We were on a youth retreat to Colorado (from Minnesota) and a few fellows and myself decided to serenade some of the girls at the camp. Afterwords, Kathy approached me and told me that I had a good voice.  That is something I never heard from anyone before and it stuck.  From there, I joined the High School choir the next year and earned a solo at one of the concerts.  In college, I joined a barbershop quartet and a travelling singing group in college (Common Bond).  And from the travelling singing group, I met the woman that I would marry at a Christmas party for all of the travelling singing groups.

In looking back, I am amazed at how God’s plans unfolded in my life.  I am also amazed at the impact words of encouragement and the giving of compliments can have on another person’s life, even my own.

So, for those who had given words of encouragement and compliments to me throughout life, I say “thank you.”  Fellow blog readers, do not focus on the negatives in others, but be ready to give the hope of encouragement and praise to others.  It only takes a few seconds to speak into others’ lives (for the positive or negative) and you never know how much small words of encouragement can impact their lives.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their need, that it may benefit those who listen.”                                                                                             Ephesians 4:29

By Your Side

One of the great privileges I have daily is to listen to my favorite Christian radio station, the WordFM (www.wordfm.org).  This year, especially during fundraising time, they played a song by Tenth Avenue North called By Your Side.  In playing this song, the WordFM communicated that the radio station was by your side, offering encouraging music inspired by God’s Word to help people get through whatever they were going through.  I have often been encouraged with music in my life and by the WordFM’s ministry as well.

This summer, I had the opportunity to be with a friend before he had succumbed to cancer.  Though it was difficult to understand him when he spoke, I remember feeling the utmost honor to be by his side in the final days of his life, even if just for a few minutes.  To offer encouragement to him and to his family was an honor (and still is).  I often think the same in the counseling office.  To be called by God to be by the side of people going through struggles is an honor like none other.  To think that God has chosen these individuals to come through the doors of my office and that He had chosen me to be a person to encourage and communicate Truth to them simply baffles me.   I can’t help but think “Why would He choose me to be a vessel of His Truth when He knows that I am just as sinful as them?”  I know the answer to that, but I just see it as amazing that it is not necessary for me to have achieved or reached a certain point in faith and righteousness to be used by God.  It’s an honor, to say the least, and very humbling.

As Christians saved by grace, He chooses who He wishes to choose. Each one of us are broken vessels chosen by God to love and be by the side of others going through difficult times.  This is actually one of our purposes in life, to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”  Some do this because being kind to others feels good.  Others are kind to people because God calls us to do this, and as a result of loving others, they feel good.  The former get their reward here, while the latter get their reward in heaven. 

The WordFM can be by your side at a distance while bringing encouraging music to your ears (not including their missions trips which are much more personal).  Foundations Christian Counseling can be by your side through face-to-face fee-based counseling for an hour per week.  But you can be by someone’s side as a friend and confidante and speak Truth into their lives simply because your love for them (emotion) leads to your love for them (action) when needed.  And why should we do this?  Because it is being like Christ – who is always by your side.  He’s not there to condemn, but to build you up and to love you simply because he has declared you worthy (not by your actions, but by his giving you life (made in the image of God) and by his death for you on the cross – he took your sins upon himself and now declares you righteous). 

There is no sin that will separate you from his love…so, too, let no sin separate you from loving another, from being by their side and showing the love of Christ.  This is one of the greatest things we can do for one another…to be by their side when they have been hurt or abandoned, to be by their side and to celebrate with them, to be by their side to build them up, encourage, and to instruct in the Word.  This is God’s view for the church body, for His children, and for us as individuals.  Whose side will you be by this week?