Thursday, February 19, 2009

Value of Encouragement

by Donna L. Watkins

Who do you spend the most time with? These people have the greatest influence on you. They speak opinions you set your beliefs on. They keep us on track with discipleship and holiness ... or they lead us away from it.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Univ. of Florida Chapel on Lake Alice
Make a list of your closest friends and family that you rely on. Ask yourself this question of each of them: What does he/she bring out of me? Are they inspirational and encouraging, always leading you back to seeking and doing God's plan for your life?

We tend to become what those who are important to us believe that we can be. Do they encourage you to fulfill hopes and dreams or do they discourage you because they are no longer hoping or dreaming? We embrace the opinions of those we respect. And parents ... that includes the relationship you have with your children. If you don't believe in them, they will not believe in themselves.

The writer, William Alan Ward, wrote: "A true friend knows your weaknesses, but shows you your strengths. Feels your fears, but fortifies your faith. Sees your anxieties, but frees your spirit. Recognizes your disabilities, but emphasizes your possibilities."

Chuck Swindoll writes about a time when he took his first attempt at skiing with a positive attitude, believing he would be the first person to learn to ski without falling down. That thought lasted only a few minutes into the lesson with the ski instructor, whom he says was the "world's most encouraging ski instructor." He writes of the experience:

"That dear, gracious lady helped me up more times than I can number. She repeated the same basics time and again - like she had never said them before. Even though I was colder than an explorer in the Antarctic, irritable, impatient, and under the snow more than I was on it, she kept offering words of reassurance.

That day God gave me a never-to-be-forgotten illustration of the value of encouragement. Had it not been for her spirit and her words, believe me, I would've hung 'em up and been back in the condo warming my feet by the fire in less than an hour. What is true for a novice on the snow once a year is all the more true for people we meet every day.

Harassed by demands and deadlines, bruised by worry, adversity and failure; broken by disillusionment and defeated by sin, they live somewhere between dull discouragement and sheer panic. All of us need encouragement, and the beautiful part about encouragement is this: anybody can do it!"

So get out there and begin doing it. It doesn't cost you anything ... unless there's a price of pride to be paid, and that's something you want to empty yourself of anyway, considering this verse: "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." (James 4:6b) Be an encourager, even if you have to humble yourself to begin the task!

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