We all need it, some more than others, but we all need it – encouragement.
How do you define it? What lifts you up, sets you right, enables you to take that next step in achieving whatever you need, or simply want, to do? Chuck Swindoll said encouragement is “the act of inspiring others with renewed courage, spirit, or hope.” He went on to say, “When we encourage others we spur them on, we stimulate and affirm them. It is helpful to remember the distinction between appreciation and affirmation. We appreciate what a person does, but we affirm who a person is.”
Wise words. As a counselor I try to speak words of appreciation whenever I can. I also recognize that what people often need, more than appreciation, is to be affirmed for who they are. That is not to say they, or anyone, are perfect just as they are. We are all a “work in progress,” with strengths and weaknesses, sinfulness and saintly attributes. God knows that about us, better than we know ourselves.
Still, we are affirmable – even when our actions may not be entirely – appreciable.
In fact, as Swindoll, says – that’s when we need affirmation the most, when we have failed and let others or ourselves down.
One of the great gifts of grace we can give each other, one of the most Christlike things we can do for one another, is be willing to affirm each other, even in the tough times. To say, loudly and clearly, “You are not perfect – neither am I – but you and I are God’s beloved. Let’s try again.”
Now that’s an encouraging thought. Don’t you think?