Monday, August 8, 2011

Intentional Encouragement.

I've never been a fan of "random acts of kindness"; honestly, I think that's a dumb concept. I believe we should be intentional about our kindness, not random. By "intentional", I don't mean we should be kind to some and not to others, and I also don't mean we should have some hidden motive behind our kindness. I just think that we should choose to intentionally be kind to everyone we meet, rather that just randomly picking someone out.

That's about as silly as when people open up the Bible to some random page, point their finger down on some random verse, and then expect God to speak to them through that. That's just playing games with God and disrespecting the Bible. But, that's a different topic to write about ...

I truly believe our kindness should be intentional. And what's more, I think our encouragement should also be intentional. Too often I think we encourage people for what they do, not for who they are. We encourage people when they make the team or do well on a project, but how often do we encourage them just for the sake of encouraging them?

Here's how this came about: yesterday I was talking with a friend and the topic of notes of encouragement came up. This friend mentioned that they frequently have notes given to them or left on their car, and I mentioned that aside from Minister's Appreciation month, my birthday, or at Christmas, I don't really get any notes or cards. I actually don't remember the last time someone gave me a note of encouragement just to encourage me.

(Don't feel bad for me; I'm not throwing a pity party. And please don't feel like you have to give me a note or a word of encouragement after reading this post)

But that got me thinking: my friend must feel special every time someone gives them a note "just because". And on the rare occasion that someone has encouraged me "just because", it's felt like a booster shot to my soul. So this morning, I woke up and decided that I would try, in some small way, to encourage everyone I saw today. At home I gave my mom a hug and told her I loved her.

Then later on I ran into someone at work and decided to encourage that person. I told them how they have such a kind, caring disposition which makes people feel at peace, and that they are doing a great job at the church office. 

When I told them that, I saw this person's eyes well up with tears. This person was shocked and they stammered out how they had been struggling with feelings about their inadequacy and shortcomings, and that I made their day by telling them that. I took a moment to pray and ask God to encourage them, gave them a hug, and then went back to my office to work.

I sat down and was just floored. This person is always so nice and seems to always be smiling, so I was humbled and honored that they would open up with me and let me pray for them. If I hadn't been intentional about encouraging them, I probably never would have had the chance to minister to this person and speak life into them.

So I want to challenge you: be an intentional encourager. Make a decision to encourage at least one person a day - and try to encourage them for who they are, not what they do. Send someone a card once a week to let them know that you appreciate and respect them. Whatever you do, figure out some way to intentionally encourage others.

Is it more work to live that way? Yes. Do you have to really look beyond yourself and be considerate of others? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Proverbs 11:25 NLT says "The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." Today was one of many instances in my life where I can tell you that this verse is very, very true. It's worth it to intentionally encourage, and the Bible promises that God will bless you for it

Don't be a random encourager; be an intentional encourager. You never know whose day you might make.

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