Often encouragement comes in the form of praise or a word of kindness. Someone says an encouraging word because they noticed something about you or something that you did. Maybe you performed your job incredibly well or have incredibly consistency. Maybe you did something extraordinary or maybe something ordinary. Encouragement often comes after an action has already occurred. It praises something in the past and often this encouragement travels into the future as well and effects decisions, performance and our sense of confidence. Praising something from the past is one direction of encouragement.
Another direction of encouragement comes before an action ever occurs. It is a word that lifts up and gives someone courage towards a certain action. It gives the recipient of this word forward drive – forward encouragement - encouragement towards a future action.
We can offer encouragement to ourselves yet often it is the encouragement of others and the encouragement of God that gives us courage towards a future action.
About a year and a half ago I lost one of my main communities of encouragement. I lost my co-workers. Those that I saw almost every day of the week, served together with, struggled with and shared life with. I have missed them dearly over the past 18 months and it was not until today that I realized I was yet missed another significant piece of their lives – I was missing their encouragement. The words for me that spurred me on, the words that gave me courage to step up and make a difficult decision, the words that challenged me to grow and the words that challenged me to think rightly and sharply. I lost my encouragers.
We all need encouragers. We need those that will speak words to things of the past and we need those that will speak words to the future and challenge us to step up, be strong and trust God. Who are your encouragers? Who can you be an encourager to today?