A few weeks ago in our weekly staff meeting, our campus pastor Blake Holmes asked us the following question:
What are the lies you’re most tempted to believe about yourself?
He gave us a few minutes to write down a few responses. This was one question I didn’t have any trouble answering. I quickly wrote down a few:
- I’ll never change. I’ll always be overweight and will always struggle with insecurities, comparison, lust, anger, and much more. I might be getting better in some of these areas, but I’ll always be defined by these sins and struggles.
- I have nothing to contribute to our church. I’ve lived a lie the last 13+ years and sometime soon I’m going to be found out. People will discover I’m not as caring and wise as people think I am.
- No one really likes my writing. They only read my blog or book because they want to be nice to me.
- I’m a horrible parent. My kids are all going to leave the faith as soon as they leave our home.
- I’m only valuable if I can help others or achieve something (the enneagram 2 and 3 in me).
- And on and on and on…
After giving us a few minutes to write down the lies, he reminded us of TRUTH. Hebrews 3:12-13 says, “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
Blake reminded us in that moment that we need the body of Christ to help us battle the lies. We need to be encouraged so that we’re not hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Blake nailed it. We often believe lies from the enemy because we lack encouragement, ignore the encouragement of others, or because our hearts have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
We then spent some time sharing how we can best encourage each other and remind other brothers and sisters of truth. For the remainder of this post, I want to share some of the wisdom we encouraged each other with. This post should help you learn how to better encourage each other daily.
How do you provide life giving encouragement?
1. Be specific in your encouragement.
Don’t just tell someone they’re “great” or “kind.” Be specific in what you tell them. Tell them how they’re great or what they did that demonstrated kindness. We don’t grow or get encouraged through vague encouragement. Be specific in what you share.
2. Sit and listen to others in their struggles or pain. Don’t feel the need to fix others or say anything profound.
Most of us want to fix and share our great wisdom with others. I know I often do. I believe a lie that says I need to share something profound and impress others and fix their problems. Sometimes the most helpful thing we can do is to sit with others in their pain and listen and pray.
Job’s friends (from the book of Job) did a great job in the beginning of just sitting and listening. The problems for them started when they opened their mouths and tried explaining to Job why he was experiencing challenges.
Just listen and don’t worry about being profound.
And when you do share, as much as possible, encourage others with the Truth of God’s Word. I know that’s tough for many of us, but make it a goal this year to memorize scripture in part so that you can encourage others with it!
3. Follow-up afterwards and don’t say you’re going to pray for them unless you’re going to pray.
So often we tell others we’ll pray for them but we don’t. A few years ago I got convicted about how often I told someone I would pray but never did. Now I no longer tell someone I’ll pray for them unless I write it down or add a reminder to pray. It’s not like we’re being malicious, but life gets busy and we just forget.
I’m always so encouraged by others when they listen and then follow-up down the road. If you want to know how to help encourage others so that they’re not discouraged or hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, then follow-up with them.
4. Don’t turn it around and make it about you.
Sometimes when we share with others, the listener says something like, “I know exactly what that’s like.” After that they turn it around and make it all about them. When you get the opportunity to encourage someone who needs to be encouraged, don’t make it about yourself! Listen and encourage them.
5. Don’t follow a script.
The best encouragement seems to come from those who tailor the encouragement to the needs of the individual.
In Ephesians 4:29, Paul writes, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Build others up according to their needs. When we encourage others be specific (see #1 above) and do so in a way that builds them up. When you do this in the right way, it shows you know the person and care for them.
If you’re not sure how to best do this, don’t be afraid to ask them. Ask them something like, “What would best help you right now?”. Again, resist the urge to impress and instead serve the other person according to their needs.
6. Show empathy.
When you show empathy to others, you’re getting in their shoes and seeking to understand what it’s like to be them. Ask questions, bear their burdens (Galatians 6:2), and seek to understand.
7. Give them your full attention.
I need this one as much as any other on this list. Give others your full attention. Put your phone away, listen, ask questions, and look them in the eye. Communicate through your actions that in this moment, they’re the most important person to you. Encourage others through the gift of your attention.
8. Get Out of Your Head.
A bonus one here. I’m on the launch team for Jennie Allen’s new book, Get Out of Your Head. Jennie addresses this very question in her new book, out on January 28th. I’m not done reading the book yet but I think it will be a great resource for many of us as we deal with the negative thoughts that plague us.
We all need the encouragement of others. Life is hard for every one of us. But God’s “Plan A” is community and the body of Christ. Encourage each other every day. Celebrate when you see God at work in the lives of others. I need it. You need it.
What are some ways you encourage others? How do you like to be encouraged?
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