Sadly, I would not describe my default setting as being an encourager. I’m more like a resting grumpy face. Even worse, I can easily tend to be a discourager, by having a critical attitude. It takes a conscious effort for me to bring a positive attitude and to encourage others.
It is difficult to give out to others if your own tank is dry. So, we need to position ourselves based on the truths of God’s Word and how He sees us. When Jesus was baptised, the first thing He heard the Father saying was “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matt 3:17. Jesus already knew that His Father loved Him, and that God was pleased with Him. But I’m sure that even Jesus perked up a bit with that audible affirmation. As followers of Jesus, that affirmation is just as applicable to us, even if we may have trouble feeling worthy of it. We must tell ourselves this truth until it is part of our identity.
The other message that goes with accepting that the Father loves us personally, is Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Self-doubt cripples us from action. I need to realise that God is with me, but I still need to take a step forward, even when the situation is scary!
To actively live as an encourager means embracing a positive attitude and shedding the negative characteristics that follow us around. For me, that means focussing on things like kindness and gratitude. One of the most challenging environments (apart from marriage and family!) is in social media. I have started several Facebook community groups and I also admin others. There are over 50,000 passionate people in these groups and the inner keyboard warrior manifests in some of them. While I do not always feel kindly to some difficult people, several times people have commented how patient I can be with stroppy group members. It does take skill and determination to encourage and build a culture where people treat each other with respect online.
I have been reflecting recently on my journey through marriage and how I have changed over the years. I know that I have changed because when I look back, I am embarrassed by some of my attitudes, words, and actions in the past. Thankfully, I no longer feel the need to be right and to argue and to be recognised as being right. My goal in marriage now is to grow old with someone I like and to enjoy our shared history of being together and family. I am once married with kids, but that outcome is as much in spite of me as because of me. I have put the arguments behind me and seek now to be kind and to be an encourager to my wife Kerrie. It is a choice.
Discussion Questions: What encourages you and lifts your spirit?
Who do you encourage and how?
I invite you to join me on Friday morning to discuss these and other questions in the Zoom Men’s Group. You don’t have to contribute to the discussion – observers are welcome too!
To find out more about the Zoom Men's Group [Click Here]