Encouragement

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?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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