Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On Being An Encourager

Like I mentioned on Friday, Zack got me a Bible for Christmas this year and I absolutely love it!  I am now the proud owner of  a Life Application Study Bible which is jam-packed with so much wisdom and Bible trivia for days.

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I will have to write a separate post about my own life journey and finding my belief in Jesus… but for now I will leave it at this... To be brief, I was not raised in church so I never had Vacation Bible School or any of the Sunday School classes where kids learned the basic Bible facts.  This means that now, while reading my Bible, every time I learn something new and profound I get really jazzed and have to share it with anyone that will listen…which is mostly just Zack. :) Anyways, I was reading 1 Thessalonians 5 when I came across a little box labeled “Checklist for Encouragers.”  It highlights the specific examples in 1 Thessalonians 5:11-23 of how we can encourage others.

 

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While being an encourager is important for everyone, I was specifically drawn to it because of my current stage of life.  As you may or may not know, Zack and I just moved and started a new career together.  This career is specifically working with teenagers.  I think that these verses in 1 Thessalonians really spoke to my heart because we feel like God may be pushing us towards this area of ministry and towards really investing ourselves in these teenager’s lives.

“12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

These verses have a ton of great examples on how to be an encourager to people.  Here are the ones that specifically stuck out to me:
 
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Verse 11: Build each other up.  I think this is so easy in today’s world to pick out people’s flaws.  Teenagers in particular have such moments of insecurity and doubt in so many aspects of their lives…at least I did! By appreciating people’s positive qualities and encouraging them instead of picking them apart, you can really build the relationship and be a positive example to them.
 
Verse 12: Respect leaders.  In my case this means that at work, I need to respect my fellow supervisors.   As a leader, and encourager, I need to respect the other supervisor’s decisions even if it may not necessarily be what I would have chosen.  I need to not complain or talk badly about them under any circumstances.  By showing my own leaders respect, I can be the example to these teenagers I work with of how they should respect not only those leaders, but me.
 
Verse 13: Live in peace.  We all know teenagers are a lot of drama, they sometimes seem to thrive off it.  As an encourager I want to keep the peace at work and be a facilitator for kindness.  I want to put out any small fires before they become bigger issues…this is actually a challenge for me because I tend to avoid confrontation.  Sometimes it is easier to ignore the drama because it does not directly affect me.  God however does not call us to avoid these situations, He wants us to dive in head first and be an example of His peace.
 
 
Verse 14: Encourage the disheartened. One of my strengths is listening.  I like to listen to people’s stories and hear what is going on in their lives.  This means that usually I am the person people tend to pour their hearts out to.  It can make for some pretty awkward situations if you don’t know what to do or say.  I want to be a listener but also an encourager.  I want people to be able to tell me things about their lives and to encourage them through difficult situations.  I want to show them the hope and promise that God has shown me in my own life.
 
 
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Verse 14: Be patient.  This is seriously my BIGGEST struggle.  I repeat this over in my head probably 150 times a day.  Teenagers are awesome…but they are also so frustrating!!  They have the biggest hearts, but also the biggest egos.  As a boss, I struggle with patience.  I struggle with positive reinforcement and being encouraging when I am filled with anger.  I want to actively pray throughout my day for patience.  I know that it is something I struggle with and I am making it my mission to seek God in these difficult scenarios where my annoyance tends to get the best of me.
 
Verse 15: Resist revenge. “Instead of planning to get even with those who mistreat you, do good to them.”  There have been situations at work where my fellow supervisor would say something that was not exactly respectful or nice to me.  To be honest, I think it was just to get a reaction, but regardless it is unnecessary and hurtful.  In all honesty I have had thoughts like, “Oh, well why should I help this person out…they don’t help me?” Or something along those lines.  Thoughts like these are toxic.  God calls us to be encouragers, to be a light to the world.  It is seriously hard to resist those negative thoughts and actions, but that is what God wants from us. 
 
Verse 16: Be joyful.  Not always easy, but something I have been trying to put into practice more often.
 
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Verse 18: Give thanks.  This is so important in work situations to be encouraging and positive.  Anyone in the customer service industry knows the power of saying thank you, and how unappreciated you can feel sometimes.  As a leader I want to encourage my employees and those around me to be thankful, not only to each other but to God.  The fact that we even have jobs is something to be thankful for!  This is something I need to remind myself daily.
 
and finally…
 
Verse 23: Count on God’s constant help.  It says, “Realize that the Christian life is to be lived not in our own strength but through God’s power.” I think verse 23 says it all. 
 
God wants us to be encouragers.  He wants us to be positive, joyful, thankful etc.  but He also realizes that as humans, this is impossible to do 24/7.  This is why it is so important to be persistent in prayer, because through Him we are limitless.
 
I want to be sensitive to others’ need for encouragement, and to deliver God’s light to them when they need it most.
 
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How do you show encouragement to others?  What verses have really been on your heart lately?



























2 comments:

  1. This is awesome and such an important reminder! I feel like people are just so self-consumed these days (even well-meaning people that aren't NOT encouraging others, but just don't have their eyes open beyond themselves). I try to just keep my eyes open to the world around me and never hold back a kind thought.

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    Replies
    1. That's a great lesson. I have been trying to be more intentional about not holding back kind thoughts. It's hard because I'm not especially outgoing, but how awesome is it when strangers compliment you?! I love bringing that kind of joy to people.

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