I woke up with a word on my mind — encourage. But that was quickly followed up with this thought, “What if the encourager needs encouragement?” I know I’ve written about this before but sometimes it’s good to have a reminder.
You see, some of us are born encouragers, others have it in them but tend to be receivers of encouragement much moreso than givers. Believe me, that’s okay; I’m not here to condemn.
However, it’s important to do two things:
1. If you are an encourager, it’s important to recognize that you need encouragement, even before the times get tough.
2. Really assess, if you’re on the receiving end, how often you share that same encouragement with others.
You can’t continue to receive but never give that same back to others. The Bible calls us to be encouragers — each and every one of us. I guarantee that those who lend themselves to help, to encourage, are not going to be the first to come to you when they need a word of encouragement themselves. That’s where we must learn to reach out with a word, a text, a call, even a prayer for those we may not know need it most.
This morning I want to offer two different words of encouragement; one for the encourager and the second for those who want/need to learn how to be an encourager more. May this be just what YOU need today!
To those who want to be a better encourager: You will notice when someone needs encouragement because they may tell you something is wrong, you may know they’re going through something difficult or they might wear their difficulties on their entire being and, without even having to tell you something is wrong, you just know it. What about those who share a smile despite feeling broken inside or in need of the word they just gave to someone else a few moments ago? You may not recognize those as needs but they might even prove to be a bigger need that those who have an obvious “problem”. You see, encouragers who get that much needed encouragement BEFORE it becomes a problem are going to be even better at encouraging those around them. Simply knowing an encourager and offer a card, a text, a hug every now and then might just save them from going over the edge when their weak moments arise. Here’s something I read this morning that might help: “Do you know someone who is always helping others or doing the tasks no one else really wants to do? Maybe you shouldn’t wait until they “need” help or ask for it –maybe you should just offer to do something nice for them. They may be a little resistant at first, but don’t give up. Be there for them. Encouragers need encouragement and helpers need help sometimes. And it’s okay.”
To the Encouragers: First of all, know it’s okay to need some encouragement from time-to-time. It doesn’t matter if it’s during the obvious difficulties or on some random Monday when you’re feeling less than appreciated. Either way, needing encouragement isn’t something you should feel ashamed of. We need to feel good and sometimes, we just aren’t feeling it. One of the most important things I’ve had to learn is that most of the time, on those days when it’s a little less obvious to others, I’m going to either need to reach out to a friend or find encouragement on my own. Pride can keep an encourager from getting the encouragement they need by standing in the way of what God might answer in His Word. It also might keep them from a good word from a friend who would be there if they just knew we needed it. Encouragers might think, “Why is no one here when I need them?” When in all actuality, the question should be, “How could someone help you if they knew you needed them?” I have realized over the years that being an encourager is part of my nature. I may not be an encourager to everyone in need but certainly, when God puts it on my heart, I reach out to those who seem to need it and sometimes when God instructs me to, even if I don’t know why. It’s important to me that abiding in Him, being obedient to those things He puts on my heart will bring fruit that I may never see but is so important. It’s the kind of “help” that we give not ever seeing the outcome. Being a good encourager is just that — lending a hand, an ear, a word without expecting one in return, knowing you may not see the fruit of your labor. But what about those days when we wish we were on the receiving end? The more you give, the more you encourage, the harder it can be on those days when all you need is a word of encouragement and no one is to be found. Encouragers aren’t one to reach out and ask for something, nor are they going to call you to say, “Can you tell me something good about me today?” Honestly, some days, that’s all an encourager needs — someone to tell them that they’re doing a good job, that their good deeds are noticed or that they are simply loved for who they are inside. Encouragers, you need to understand that people aren’t going to recognize when you need a boost. Some people wear their heart on their sleeve as in they share every problem or know how to ask for prayer or help when they need it but others wear their heart on their sleeve in such a manner that people just know they have a big heart, never realizing that heart might be breaking ever-so-slightly. So if this encourager is you, you have to learn to ask for prayer but also know to go to God when you’re feeling a little lonely.
Here’s a good word from someone who was used to being the encourager that I found this morning:
“I imagine that if you are one who helps, it’s hard to switch roles and be on the receiving end. I recently had that experience. I’m used to being on the helping side, not the receiving, yet a situation arose that caused me to need a little help. And boy was it hard to accept. It’s not because I think I’m too good to need help – in whatever form that help takes. It’s because I want to give. I found myself stressing out about being a burden or bothering other people, but that’s when the thought occurred to me: when I know someone else needs help, I never feel they’re a burden or a bother. So why would I think others would feel that way about me?”
Another blog I read speaks to reaching out to God:
“But the best encouragement comes in the form of truth – the Word of God. We desperately need God’s truth. When we feel like we can’t go on any more and life is too difficult, God comforts us with the Holy Spirit, who is our helper, counselor and our encourager. God also provides us with encouragement in the context of meaningful relationships. God uses regular people like you and me to be agents of encouragement. He comforts us through other people who are willing to come along side us and encourage when we’re weak.”
Whether you’re an encourager or one who is learning to be one, God has called us all to the same task. That task is to love and part of that task requires learning to encourage one another.
“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
Jesus (John 13:34-35)
Be conscious that if you give, you take the time you need to seek encouragement. And if you receive, be sure you always take time to give it back.