Have you made any New Year’s resolutions this year? Maybe you want to lost weight, exercise more, quit smoking, stop yelling at your kids, be on time…we all have things we want to improve as we begin a new year. Whatever your resolution is, don’t give up! If you do fine until February and then blow it, don’t let it go until next January 1 – start over immediately and you will see results as you develop new habits or get rid of old ones. I want to suggest something that all of us can work on this year. Let’s all resolve to be more encouraging!
I have an index card taped inside the cupboard door where I keep my stationery, note cards, and envelopes. On that card are the words: One word or note brings more encouragement than a thousand thoughts…never expressed. I don’t know who originally wrote that thought, but I often think of it, and I try to encourage people whenever I can. If you think about how society is today, it’s clear that encouragement is a lost art. Criticism and sarcasm are much more common than compliments and kind words. We can all think of reasons not to encourage someone: I’m too busy to write a letter, that person might get a “big head” if I say something nice about them, I see so many bad things that they do – I can’t compliment them or they might not even try to change, someone might misunderstand my motives if I say something nice. Can you think of other reasons for not encouraging someone?
I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up….” Sure, we are busy, someone might become proud if we compliment them, our motives may be misunderstood…but the benefits of encouragement are worth the risks and the time we spend on it.
It is true that we should do our daily work without expecting any reward or compliments from anyone, but we all know how much more fulfilling our tasks can be when we know they are appreciated. Instead of whining to yourself, “No one appreciates me. All I do is clean up after these kids all day!” try to turn your focus instead toward how you can encourage someone else in their thankless tasks. It is good for us to forget about ourselves and look for ways to encourage and build up someone else. As we help others, we become less selfish and concerned with ourselves. We may still spend all day taking care of messy kids, but we can learn to do our job with a thankful, selfless heart.
Do not let the moment pass when you feel like telling someone “good job” on some project or accomplishment. Just a short sentence can give someone the boost they need when they are feeling unappreciated or discouraged about how life is going. I have some “sound bytes” which I replay in my mind when things are not going well. A compliment or kind word from a friend or acquaintance can help me remember past successes and it can help me get my perspective back as I struggle with hard times occasionally.
Take time out of your busy day to write a short note to someone when you are thinking of them. A sincere note of thanks or a letter urging someone to “hang in there” can give a friend (or even a stranger!) a good reason to keep trying, to keep on going in their different endeavors. A note is especially good because the person can reread it when they need encouragement.
Keep your eyes open and you will see all kinds of people who can use some encouragement. Say something nice to the checkout clerk at the grocery store, the bank teller, the person who pumps your gas. Write a note of encouragement to your child’s teacher, your overworked Pastor, the Mayor of your town, your best friend. Resolve to encourage your own children more this year – we must correct them quite often, but they will be more open to correction and discipline if they see that we love them and they often hear words of encouragement from our mouths.
You can do it! Resolve to be more encouraging this year!
One word or note brings more encouragement than a thousand thoughts…never expressed.
© Robyn Mulder 1999, therobynsnest.org