Sunday, July 23, 2006

An Encouraging Word

Who are you encouraging this week?

Ordinary chit-chat comes easily, just like making routine comments about the weather. But how about encouragement? How about mentoring? Both of these are strong, positive steps we each can take. It’s a blessing for others that brings to us opportunities for our own growth and spiritual development.

What is encouragement?
Encouragement comes in many flavors. It may be written or spoken. It may be acknowledging something accomplished by the other person. It may be a word to “stand strong” in the middle of a muddle. It may be a reminder that God has worked in the past and is now working in the current situation.

What is mentoring?
Something you know how to do, that you can pass on to someone else who’s trying to do it qualifies as “mentoring.” You don’t actually have to be an expert to mentor someone. You don’t have to be older and the other person, younger. Anyone with a caring heart can mentor anyone else who is the recipient of some of your time and interest.

Encouragement can be a big help.
A kind word can be a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Can’t you recall a time when someone, out of the blue, noticed your effort or achievement and said something to you? Have you been mentored on the job? Have you been mentored when you volunteered to do something at church? Maybe those were rare occasions; maybe you labored on unnoticed and unhelped.

Who needs it?
Look around your family, neighborhood, job, for starters. At one time or another probably each one of us could be greatly helped by some encouragement.

Why don’t we do this?
It’s probably not that we are uncaring, not that we are unable; the fact is most people hardly notice what’s going on in someone else’s life. We are simply, “busy!”
Actually, we can set our priorities and proceed, if we want to. As always, pray for the Lord’s direction. Ask, “Who? What? How?”

An example from the New Testament
Who in the Bible was an encourager or a mentor to someone? Several examples may come to mind. David and Jonathan, Elijah and Elisha. Others?
One New Testament example would be the disciple, John, and Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Remember that at the cross Jesus speaks to His beloved disciple and His mother who are witnessing the terrible scene.
“When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”
Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27).
Why didn’t Jesus put his mother Mary into the care of his brothers or sisters? Matthew 13:36, mentions “sisters.” Mark mentions his brothers by name, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?…” (Mark 6:3).
Obviously, John and Jesus had developed a closeness that made Jesus’ statement understood to both. It was something Jesus had to say.
Some years later John wrote the Gospel of John, the letters I, II, III John, and finally the book of Revelation.
It has been suggested that John wrote the little letter of II John to Mary. Read for yourself the 13 verses of II John with that in mind. Consider that she, too, needed encouragement at that time in her life. Only one place in the Bible speaks of the Elect Lady.

How do we do this?
Each situation will suggest its own pathway. Picture yourself walking alongside that other person who the Lord has put on your heart. Don’t withhold little reminders of God’s grace or revelations of love.
“For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.” Philemon 1:7).
Don’t smother the person with your attention. Like a good parent, suggest something, offer to share some ideas, perhaps pass along some pertinent articles. Offer personal prayer ministry.
Don’t expect the undying gratitude of the person. Give them space to absorb, put it into practice, and grow at their own pace.
Being an encourager and/or a mentor doesn’t mean you’re setting yourself up for promotion or publicity. It’s a quiet, caring way of being submissive to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit.
As you bless others you yourself will be refreshed. Let this encourage you!
By Elaine Hardt ©2005