“But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him…”
Encourage: To give courage to; to give or increase confidence or success; to inspire with courage, spirit, or strength of mind (Websters 1828 dictionary). To strengthen, hold, fortify (Strong’s Concordance).
Everyone needs encouragement. Proverbs 25:11 reminds us that “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” The first time I encountered that verse was while in Africa on a missions trip. A friend brought it out in conversation and God used it as an encouragement to my heart during a trying situation. I can think back to other situations where at just the right time someone encouraged me to keep on going!
God intends for us to be encouragers, but beyond that, to communicate our encouragement to others. Think about how many times Paul wrote to churches, letting them know of his prayers (1 Cor. 1:4, Eph. 1:16, Phil. 1:3-6, Col. 1:3-4, 9, 1 Thes. 1:2-3), acknowledging their prayers for him (2 Cor. 1:11), or thanking them for their communication (Phil. 4:15-16). I wonder how often Paul recalled the faithfulness and encouragement of believers as he “endured hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3) in prison and in other trials.
Practical ways to be an encourager:
- Write a “just because” note, include a scripture verse or hymn, pray that scripture over the person, and mail the note to their home.
- Send a text throughout the week to someone who might have a big exam coming up, a stressful work project, a homeschooling mom trying to get back into the swing of things after the holidays, or to a person you haven’t seen in a while.
- Marco Polo (a video messaging app) is a great way to stay connected! I found I used it just as often when we were in the States as I did in Thailand. It will take being a little vulnerable, but reach out to someone by sending the first polo and seeing how they’re doing. I did this with another missionary wife, even though I’ve never met her, and now a friendship has developed.
- Reply to a prayer request email with “praying for you!”
- Look around at church for someone you haven’t talked to a while and strike up a conversation. Ask questions.
- We can’t be close with everyone, but if you know someone is going through a trying situation or going through a “hard season”, drop off a snack or a meal, offer to run errands or babysit for a few hours, or deliver flowers with a note.
- Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, do what you can do right where you’re at. For instance, maybe you can’t get out on visitation or special outreaches. Commit to standing in the gap in prayer while the outreach is going on.
While not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, these are just a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing. How can you participate in the ministry of encouragement this week? Rather than making a commitment to do big things this year, look for a small way to reach out and “by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)
Living in Thailand is a daily adventure for Anne Williams and her family of six. In between all of the many language blunders, running after toddlers, and giving the neighbors plenty to smile at, she is grateful God’s grace is always available just when she needs it.