“That is SO encouraging!!”
How many times have we heard someone say that? It is a very typical response to a range of scenarios. Maybe I gave you a generous compliment… or maybe I prayed for you after a church service. Maybe I gave you a prophetic word… or maybe I said I was here for you if you ever needed it.
“Thanks Tim, that has really encouraged me…”
“…that’s really encouraging to know”
I have been thinking about encouragement a lot recently. I am not discounting the above as examples of encouragement but I believe there’s a new depth of ‘encouragement’ that we are yet to grasp.
It comes down the actual word. Think about this: the prefix “en-“ means to “make” or “put in”. The word ‘encourage’ therefore essentially means “to put in courage”. When was the last time you thanked someone for saying something encouraging to you? Did it really put courage into you? Did it deposit something into your heart that allowed you to courageously step out as who you are meant to be?
Because that’s the kind of encouragement that I want to start to give. That’s the kind of encourager that I want to become.
Everyone Needs Encouragement
You see, everyone needs encouragement. At the moment I see a lot of people with a lot of training but they do not have the courage to step out and see their God-given dreams fulfilled. You can have all the training and equipping in the world, but you won’t do much without the courage to step into the person that you were created to be.
The great thing about being in relationship with the God who created the entire world is that He has the capacity to released massive dreams in people. This is great! We are each created in His image with God-given kingdom potential embedded in us. Sometimes these dreams seem impossible, but they are not when the creator of the universe is living inside of you! That’s why encouragement is so important – it’s calling out that God-given potential in people and giving them the courage to live it out!
Think about the examples above: if I give you a compliment or a prophetic word but you walk away the same as before, has it really encouraged you (put courage in you)? But if I give you a compliment or prophetic word that instills a sense of courage in your heart where you can walk out the room with a smile on your face, believing that you can see the Kingdom of God come in your situation and you can see your God-given dreams become reality, no matter how big or crazy… then that sounds like encouragement!!
Invitation and Challenge
The great thing about this kind of encouragement is that it encompasses both invitation and challenge. Imagine someone comes to me and says: “Tim, I believe in you. I believe that you can see both universities in Sheffield transformed by God’s love. Your dream to see broken students encounter God’s love will become a reality. Keep stepping out and taking opportunities because I believe in you Tim and I believe in the dreams God has given you.”
What a great thing to say to someone! Not only are they affirming what God has put in my heart, but they are inviting me into relationship and backing me as a person. However, it is also contains an element of challenge – it’s saying “I believe in you, so go and do it!” Step out and live the life God has called you to. Go!
Jesus was the best encourager. When I read some of His words I like to imagine what it would have been like to have been there. Can you imagine how courageous you would feel if Jesus said to you “all authority has been given to me, so go! Get out there and make disciples everywhere… and I’m going to be with you along the way, every single day, no matter what!” (paraphrase of Matthew 28:18-20)? That’s encouragement! There’s the challenge of chasing after an amazing dream and purpose – people from all nations being discipled! To get there, they have to go. Yet it is combined with the invitation and the reassurance that He will not leave them! No wonder these uneducated fishermen saw 3,000 people saved on day one after Holy Spirit showed up in Acts. They were left full of courage by Jesus (courage that is reinforced and increased by the wonderful Holy Spirit – Jesus in them!!)
If we just challenge people without the invitation of relationship, we end up beating them down. I don’t think the disciples would have been as effective if Jesus had just said “go and change the world and disciple people”. That sounds scary! How could they step out to be the people they were created to be without the reassurance that Jesus was going to be with them?! In the same way, if we only challenge people we do not release people to be who God has made them to be. And my guess is that those people will continue to struggle to overcome the areas of their life that you are challenging in them. However, if we grasp what it means to encourage, to put in and instill courage in the hearts of the people we are discipling, then we will see a courageous generation stand up who see and hear the dreams God has put in their heart and they believe that they can play a part in seeing them become reality.
So go! Find people that encourage you and go and encourage the people around you. We need to create a culture of encouragement by being encouraged ourselves and learning to put courage in the hearts of the people around us.
- Are you good at encouraging (putting courage in) people? Think of some ways that you can encourage people around you.
- Who are the people around you that give you the courage to be the person that you were created to be?
- Who are the people you feel God is telling you to encourage this week?