“Help, help! There’s a spider!” I cried.
Six-year-old Josh rushed over, “Where’s the spider? I’ll get ‘em. I’ll get ‘em!”
A group of us were cleaning the church that afternoon and little Josh, after discovering that I was terrified of spiders, offered to kill any arachnids that I ran into…and let’s just say, I was happy to take him up on his offer. When I found my first eight-legged creature, I called for Josh’s help. Of course I dramatized my terror a bit to make him feel more manly.
“It’s right there,” I replied pointing timidly to the corner of the room.
Josh marched right up to the spider, but then hesitated. Sensing his fear, I encouraged him gently, “Go ahead Josh. You’re brave and strong. I know you can do it.”
“Okay. I can do it.” He took a deep breath and launched at the spider, stomping his little Velcro sneakers furiously—which looked more like a spastic tap dance than spider squashing. Then, turning around to face me, he placed his hands on his hips confidently and said, “Okay, he’s dead. Any more you need me take care of?”
“I think that’s it,” I said with a smile. “Thanks so much for helping me, Josh.”
“No problem,” he replied, and then he ran off to find his playmate.
I recounted the story to Josh’s mom a few hours later and she was astonished. “Really?” she questioned. “He actually killed the spider? At home he always runs away from them!”
Sometimes all we need is a little encouragement to conquer a fear.
Encouragement can help others overcome fears or face difficult obstacles. It can build a person’s character, show them God’s love, or just make their day brighter.
And we need encouragement. Abraham and Sarah needed their spirits raised when they were childless, so God sent them heavenly visitors (Genesis 18). When Mary needed cheering up, she found solace in God and in a relative, Elizabeth (Luke 1). Paul needed encouragement in ministry/prison, and history records the name of several people who ministered to him. Even Christ sought the support of his disciples during his darkest hours in Gethsemane.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says: “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are also doing.”
As Christians, we are to bless others with our actions and deeds! But, in our self-obsessed culture it’s difficult to set ourselves aside long enough to bless others. We’re so busy thinking about ourselves and our lives that we forget that the person living in the same house, sitting in the next cubicle, or standing behind the cash register at the supermarket could be in need of an uplifting word. Our culture promotes selfish obsession, but Christ promotes serving others before ourselves (Philippians 2:3).
Encouraging others doesn’t take too much effort or time, but it does take thought and initiative. You can:
Write a letter – nowadays an actual handwritten note is such a blessing
Text a verse or quote – something that blesses you may also bless another
Make a phone call – and leave a message
Listen and remember – follow up on what your friend shared with you; it will mean a lot.
Thank someone for their work or service – a simple word can really brighten a day
Don’t just pray for God to use someone out there to encourage someone who’s down—let Him use you! Listen to Jesus and He will guide you. It’s not a quota of, “I need to encourage X number of people today.” It’s simply being in tune with the Holy Spirit’s leading and thinking of others before yourself.
And when we are plugged into Jesus, unselfish behavior tends to flow much more naturally. I find that when I am seeking Him, asking Him how I can serve Him and how I can be a blessing to those around me, ideas pop into my head and motivating words flow out of without much effort!
Are there people around you who need a word to lift their spirits? Is there someone that needs a gentle word to help overcome a fear? Take the opportunity to be a blessing and to be thankful for those who have encouraged you.
Are You an Encourager?
Felicia Alvarez, a graduate of Liberty University, lives in Southern California and loves avocados, sunshine, and serving her Savior. Currently, she teaches dance to over one hundred students and is working on her second book. Connect with Felicia on her blog or on Facebook, she would love to hear from you!