Have you ever considered what you’d want written on your tombstone? A bit morbid, yes. But I’ve come across the question a few times. When I pondered it last year, I realized one of the words I wanted to be used to describe me wasn’t something that comes naturally to me—encourager.
A few years ago I took a strengths assessment and finally had some language to talk about how I’m naturally gifted. As it turns out, my brain loves to think about strategy all day long…
… Strategy for the most efficient way to get to my daughter’s school from my house.
… Strategy to structure my dishwashing in such a way that conserves natural resources.
… Strategy for the best order in which to run errands.
And that’s just in my home life. It’s even more prevalent in my work life! Another aspect of strategic thinking that I love is coming up with new ways to do things. This is my “ideation” strength in action.
Lest you think all this sounds exhausting… it’s the opposite. Because my brain is wired this way, it’s energizing for me to spend time thinking about ideas and strategies!
Anyway, with all that strategic thinking, my relationship building strengths aren’t quite as prominent. And while I’m not one to focus on weaknesses, I was compelled to act because of what God’s Word says about it.
Scripture is why I want to be encouraging.
God repeatedly tells his children to encourage one another (some examples are listed at the end of this post). That encouragement is how he builds us up and even protects us from temptation and sin. This is huge! What if an encouraging word from me is God’s way to help someone else not fall… and yet I don’t take the time to give that encouraging word?
So, for me, if being encouraging is something I want to grow in myself, I need to be strategic in how that happens and practice intentionally being an encourager.
Scripture gives me a great tool for structuring my encouragement reminders.
I set an alarm on my phone to go off at the same time every day and remind me to encourage someone. I use the chapter and verse numbers of God’s instruction about encouragement to give me time(s) throughout the day when I encourage someone.
At first, when the alarm would go off, I would stop what I was doing and pray for God to bring someone to mind who needed encouragement. Then, I’d send that person a quick message of encouragement.
As time went on, and my brain got more familiar with the task, I found myself waking up each morning with the name of someone God wanted me to encourage that day. This gave me more time to write an email or call instead of text.
I’m not sharing this now because I feel like I’ve got this down pat. Far from it. I’m definitely [still] not there yet! Rather, I’m sharing it because of what happened at the Created for You retreat.
Caught in the Act
I was speaking to a group of women about our basic needs and how trauma affects them when I heard the familiar alarm on my phone. While I had silenced the device before the talk began, alarms apparently aren’t silenced unless you actually turn them off manually. Yikes!
I was caught off guard and became flustered. As I reached for the phone, I knocked my water bottle and sent it flying off
I made a mental note to turn off the alarm so it didn’t go off again during one of my sessions.
Following up on my brilliant mental notes is also not one of my strengths, because 24 hours later I was standing in the same spot, on the same stage, when the alarm went off AGAIN, and my water bottle went flying AGAIN.
I was mortified.
But something funny happened. The women remembered and actually encouraged me. They said I was encouraging them so it counted. And afterward, some even asked about the verse reference so they could try it themselves.
I realized this is can be a useful tool for anyone who, like me, wants to grow in this area.
NOTE: Now my one hesitation in sharing is this… I don’t want anyone who receives a message from me at one of these times to think they are “my project” or that I am contacting them “to check a box.” Quite the contrary! It has become an absolute pleasure for God to use me to encourage anyone.
Encouragement to be an encourager…
So if anyone else wants to join me, here are so ideas for times and verses. Happy encouraging!
- [10:25] And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. —Hebrews 10:24-25
- [12:25] Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. —Proverbs 12:25
- [2:19] So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. —Romans 14:19
- [2:34] Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. —Philippians 2:3-4
- [3:13] But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. —Hebrews 3:13
- [3:31] When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. —Acts 15:31
- [5:11] Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. —1 Thessalonians. 5:11
- [5:14] And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. —1 Thessalonians 5:14