Over the last three weeks we have been taking a look at how incredibly important encouragement is. In this last director’s message on encouragement I wanted to look at two things about it – what it isn’t and what it is.
What It Isn’t
First of all, encouragement is not flattery. Our reason for giving encouragement is to “inspire with courage, spirit, or hope.” The reason for the encouragement is centered on the other person. Flattery, on the other hand, is to “praise from motives of self interest.” When someone is flattering a person, the reason is centered on themselves. The key issue is the person’s motives.
Second, encouragement is not praise. Praise is associated with accomplishments or achievement. It often comes paired with judgment or evaluation. Does that mean you cannot “encourage” someone for doing a good job or performing well? No. It just means that encouragement should not only come in the face of achievement. Encouragement is not based on performance; in fact it can come in spite of the person’s performance.
What It Is
…make a list of people you would like to encourage during the week or month and keep that list visible where you would see it often…
We have clarified what encouragement is not; so what is it? Well, first of all it is intentional. Giving encouragement is not a natural thing for us as humans. Our natural tendency is to focus on our own needs and what is happening in our lives. We need to get into the habit of looking for opportunities to encourage people. There are many chances to do this, but until we get into the practice of looking for them most will pass us by in the busyness of life. One suggestion a website on encouragement gave was to make a list of people you would like to encourage during the week or month and keep that list visible where you would see it often.
Another important characteristic of encouragement is that it should be personal. If it is truly going to inspire and give someone courage it needs to be specifically for them. A general letter out to everyone in your company that is encouraging is nice and a positive step, but does not have the impact that personal encouragement has for that person.
Finally, encouragement is original. Here are some specific descriptions of what encouragement can be:
- Encouragement can be simple (it does not need to be elaborate to make a difference)
- Encouragement can be verbal (a simple thank you or statement of appreciation)
- Encouragement can be physical (do some work for someone or a simple hug)
- Encouragement can be spiritual (praying for someone or a Bible verse to encourage)
- Encouragement can be creative (email, e-cards, poster, cookies, flowers, etc.)
As we talked about last week, encouragement is reciprocal. My hope is that our focus on encouragement has been just that for you – encouraging. If it has, I also hope it has motivated you to become someone who takes the time and effort to give courage to those around you.