Encourage one anotherEncouragement changes people. Make it a habit to encourage others.
Doug Britton, MFT
Encouraging words make a difference
Have you ever known someone who believed in you, someone who frequently spoke words of encouragement and praise? The kind of person who made you feel you could do it, whatever “it” was? That’s the kind of person God wants us to be, people who encourage one another.
Paul gave us a good guideline when he wrote that everything we say should build up the one who is listening.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
I always am encouraged when my wife praises me. This truth came home to me once in a graphic, although silly, way. We used to take our sons to a video arcade, and I often played my favorite game. It soon became obvious that my scores were much higher whenever my wife watched and cheered me on.
The same phenomenon, multiplied by thousands of cheering fans, becomes the home court advantage in sports contests. The book of Proverbs sums up the impact encouraging words can have when it says, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21). Your words have an impact. May this online Bible study encourage you to encourage one another.
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life. (Proverbs 10:11)
Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers. (Acts 15:32)
We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith. (1 Thessalonians 3:2)
Therefore encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)
Follow God’s example — Encourage one another
You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry. (Psalm 10:17)
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus. (Romans 15:5)
Think positively, looking for things to encourage
Do you bring sunshine or gloom into the room? Do you encourage one another or discourage one another? If you are a negative person, don’t say, “I’m just a worrier. I was born that way.” Or, “It’s my nature to be depressed.” God is in the personality-changing business. He wants you to “be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:29). You can change. You can become known for your encouraging words.
Life is full of problems, and we need to deal with them. But if we aren’t careful, all we see are the problems. There are lots of good things we can focus on. Instead of “catching people being bad,” catch them being good. Make your words a fountain of life. Be a positive person. Encourage one another.
Ask God to help you develop a positive thought life. Immerse yourself in his Word. Pray. Over time, you will discover that you can control the way you think, choosing to focus on some thoughts and to reject others. The following verse can be life changing. Write it out and post it where you will see it regularly, on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or the dashboard of your car.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
When you wake up in the morning, ask God to help you look for and focus on the positive. Pray for this attitude throughout the day. Choose to meditate on the positive. Bring sunshine into the world.
Speak positively, using encouraging words
When you talk, you make a series of choices about what subjects to discuss, what memories to bring up, and what points to make. There always are negative things you could say, but there also are positive ones. Choose the positive. Choose to specialize in encouraging others, not in critical comments. As Paul wrote:
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19).
Related: Encourage Your Spouse
Encourage others daily
Bring friendly speech into your relationships. Don’t start complaining as soon as you see your spouse, child, employee, neighbor or someone else. Ask about his or her day. Give a compliment. Share stories about your day, insights from a Bible study, victories on the job, or other things they may be interested in.
Voice words of encouragement, appreciation, support, and respect.
Look for ways to encourage one another. Acknowledge others’ abilities and efforts. If someone feels inadequate, encourage him or her.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Monitor your positive and negative remarks.
Learn to be self-aware and listen to what you say. Be sure to encourage one another and make many more positive comments than negative ones.
Respond to problems with hope and encouragement.
When someone talks about personal difficulties, do not respond with a “gloom and doom” attitude. Listen with compassion, and avoid simplistic advice. Say something such as, “I know this is a tough time for you, but it won’t last. Let me encourage you: God will see you through, and I’m here to help, too.”
[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Avoid subtle criticisms.
Watch out for subtle ways you may tear others down, such as pointing out how quickly you can mow the lawn when you know it takes them twice as long.
Related: Communicate with respect and love
Discuss problems as a friend.
There are times in every relationship—in a family, on the job, or wherever—when people discuss difficult topics. When you do, speak in a courteous, friendly manner. The way you speak usually is more important than whether your opinions are right or wrong.
Make a plan to encourage others
- List the key people in your life.
- Beside each name, write how encouraging you are with that person.
- Pray for God to help you recognize the power of encouragement and to encourage one another—to say encouraging words, not discouraging words.
Follow through — Encourage others daily
Make it a habit to encourage one another. Consider keeping track of how you are doing on a day-by-day basis. For example, you could:
- Make a brief note on a calendar each day you encourage someone.
- Keep an encouragement journal or diary.
Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com for practical, biblical, cross-cultural books, Bible studies, and ebooks.