When I think of people that I admire and those whose company gives me much joy, those people, I notice, have one certain character trait in common – they are encouragers!
This week I was at a thanksgiving service for a dear soul who was a great encourager. Whoever met him would leave his presence with a smile on their face and a song in their heart.
I want to be like that. I want to lift others; come alongside others; speak joy and hope to others.
A person who encourages is one with whom one feels one’s own spirit lifted. They do not use flattery or shallow, people-pleasing rhetoric, but they see what is good, what is true, what is possible, what is excellent and they focus on those things.
I have often said of myself that I am very easily encouraged and equally too easily discouraged. I am not proud of this. I wrote a poem some years ago, called ‘Emotional Rollercoaster’ because of this unpredictable powerlessness I had over my emotional state!
And it is still true of me. My emotional response to circumstances can fluctuate so rapidly, with the next change of the winds of fortune and opinion! It is not a healthy way to be and it is something that my growth journey of the last seven years has had me constantly aware of and working on.
It is a battlefield in the mind, as Joyce Meyer expounds in her excellent book with that title.
We are called to be transformed, by the renewing of our minds. Thankfully my mind is changing and being renewed slowly.
The key is in the word, courage.
When I am discouraged, I lose courage and become fearful. Such fears are rooted in rejection, punishment and limiting beliefs about myself, lies that say I deserve nothing, that I am stupid and that I am worthless.
When a circumstance changes and an obstacle arises, or a person shows hostility or opposition to something I hold dear, then the negative thoughts in my mind can trigger the fears and leave me feeling powerless and without courage or hope. I sink rapidly into a pit.
When I am encouraged, it feels like the world smiles on me; I feel accepted; I feel okay and I have the courage to believe that I can do something worthwhile. Encouraged, the sun shines and I can look for solutions to obstacles and I have courage to believe the truth and to stand against opposition with truth and resilience.
The trouble is that I still rely too heavily on such encouragement from other people.
Though I am working on ‘re-framing’ those internal scripts, that say I am rubbish, and contradicting them with true facts about who I really am and the truth of who God says I am, still I am too easily swayed by the opinions of others and the obstacles that appear in my circumstances.
Likewise I can choose to focus on the speck in the eye of another and the plank in my own eye, or I can be grateful for the goodness in that person’s heart and in the growth in my own life.
I am a work in progress. I have to constantly contradict the lies from my internal critic; have to constantly be mindful of the truth about the present reality; have to remind myself of what God says about me in His word; have to build myself up in faith and stand with courage on the faithful promises of God.
I need to build my house upon the Rock, not upon sand.
And I need to do this for myself and not rely on the opinions and acceptance of others. For transformation, I have to remain alert and keep up the housekeeping in myself. It is a daily practice of hope, as essential as sleep, food and water.
However, it is also my mission to my brothers and sisters.
I remind myself that today I will only say and do that which build another person up, in the truth.
I will not criticise, gossip or speak doom and gloom.
I will see all that is lovely, all that is good and true and excellent.
I will focus on those things and I will point them out to myself and to my fellow warriors who battle with their own minds.
I will be an encourager, a light and a smile to others, wherever I find myself.
Will you encourage and give hope to somebody today?