A couple of years ago, Glen bought me a book called ‘How to Give and Receive Praise’. (I started reading it but got distracted by the washing instructions on the sofa). The point was – is – this: encouragement is hard work.
I blame my parents: in our family, if you love someone, you insult them. The ruder you are, the more you like ’em. There’s nothing worse than a big head so if you put them down you’re actually protecting them. It’s a kindness.
I need encouragement to be an encourager. Here’s some things that help:
Be specific. Not just ‘you’re great’, but ‘you’re great because… ‘you always make time for others… ‘
Be interested. Why did you do that? What were you thinking when this happened? When other people are interested in my plans, I start to get more excited about them. Things that were hazy and hard, start becoming concrete and possible,
Ask for advice. When someone asks for ‘my wisdom’, I’m flattered – and I start to think maybe, just maybe, I actually got some..
Make a point of looking for things you admire in others. Tell them how they point you to Jesus – and tell others, e.g; when introducing them to someone new.
Ask God to help you see others as He does. Quote them (positively!) in their presence.
Pray: ask if you can pray with the person and ask what you can pray for. Then keep praying – even when they’re out of eyeshot.. also pray that God will help you to be an encourager
Talk about Jesus!
Offer practical support.
Think about the things that make you feel appreciated. Do them to others.
Say thank-you: especially in situations where this might not often happen or where they might be taken for granted – e.g; if your bus driver is lovely, write to his company and say so. Carry blank cards with you so you can write spontaneously.
Give people second chances.
Give gifts. One of my friends painted the word ‘hope’ on a stone and varnished it and gave it to me. It cost nothing, but it means a lot.
Tickle them. Unless they hate tickles.
Now for the other half of the book title “…How to receive encouragement”… that’s even harder! Suggestions?