(clematis on our fence)
Disclaimer: This post will probably be rather less-than-structured. I don't like that, but right now it's either write the post unplanned, or don't write at all! :)
Last night I was reading about Barnabas in Acts 4. In case you haven't heard it a hundred times like I have, did you know that Barnabas's name means "Son of Encouragement" or "Son of Consolation"? It was given to him by the apostles after he joined the early church.
That's inspiring to me. I have always wanted to be like Barnabas. For one, of course, he ended up being a missionary with Paul...and that in itself is inspiring to me! But also, he was an encourager. A very prominent one, I'd say, to have his name--or "nickname"--reflect that trait.
Do you also feel called to be an encourager of others? How do we go about doing that? Barnabas's story shows us one way. Did you know that Barnabas was instrumental in encouraging the early Jerusalem church to accept Paul when he first tried to join them after his conversion experience? Look up Acts 9:26-28 to read that story. Barnabas encouraged Paul by standing up for him, showing him that at least one other person considered him worthy of trust.
Encouragement is all about relationships. There are more hurting people in this world than you could ever dream. We women are often particularly good at telling when someone's feeling "down" or discouraged. Instead of ignoring that intuition that tells us, "Miss A doesn't seem herself today," because it might feel awkward to ask her how she really is doing, why don't we take the time to talk, ask appropriate questions, and see if we can begin building a relationship that will eventually allow her to share her struggles with us? Then we could ask God for the words and timing to encourage her in His way.
When you have a trust relationship with someone and feel led to give them a little extra encouragement, how do you go about doing that? Here's some ways I enjoy:
* Send an email
* Give a handmade card
* Give a hug
* Comment on their blog, Facebook page, or MySpace account
* Call them on the phone
* Write a letter
* Tell them something they have done that inspires you or that you especially
Ask God for the right words. You don't have to include a Bible verse with everything, but there are so many encouraging texts that you can often find one that's quite applicable if the recipient is a Christian.
I'm not a very talkative person, so I tend to go for the writing/listening/little-bit-of-talking side of things and may be missing a lot of ways where I could improve! How do you encourage others?