How to Think Like an Encourager

by Andy Wood on July 20, 2009

in Esteem, Life Currency

encourgement-3It’s one of every parents’ not-so-silent dread points.  A moment of teenage carelessness, and a 16-year-old wrecks her Mamma’s car.

She was uninjured, so she called home to brace for the next impact – dad’s angry reaction.  Instead, her father just asked about her physical and emotional condition.

When he showed up at the accident scene, his first attention was to his daughter.  He wanted to see with his eyes that what she said on the phone was true.  Then and only then did he turn his attention to the mangled auto being towed away.

When it was time to go home, dad had another surprise.  He handed her the keys to his car and got in on the passenger side.

No angry tirade.

No reminders of previous warnings.

Just a lot of love and an overwhelming vote of confidence.

Years later, that girl, now a parent herself, commented, “Words can’t describe what my father’s God-like act did for my self-esteem that day.”  She said it left a spiritual impact on her because she saw in her father the character of the God he loved.

Encouragement.  Nearly all of us recognize the need for it.  I would guess that most of us would like to give it.  But how often, when faced with the opportunity to actually be an encourager, do we actually come through?

I believe the key to being an encourager is in learning to think like one. If you wait around until somebody tries to make an accordion out of your car before you try to practice encouragement, you’ll fail every time.  Encouragement is something you make, not something you shake.  Before it can become a reaction, it must first be an action.

Here’s what helps me practice thinking like an encourager.  I don’t always do a good job, but when I do, it’s usually because I’ve asked these empowering questions in advance:

1.  Empathy – How can I say, “I understand”?

2.  Nearness – How can I say, “I’m here”?

3.  Confidence – How can I say, “I believe in you”?

4.  Optimism – How can I say, “It’s going to work out”?

5.  Unity – How can I way, “I’m on your side”?

6.  Reminders – How can I say, “Don’t forget”?

7.  Acceptance – How can I say, “You’re O.K. just as you are”?

8.  Generosity – How can I give something of value to someone?

9.  Expectation – How can I say, “You can do it”?

When you put the first letters of each key word together, they spell “encourage.”  And when you think about it, each of those words comprise a little bit of what encouragement is all about.

Notice also that each empowering question begins with the word, “How.”  This requires you to answer the question with action, not just words.  And yes, actions still speak louder.

Try this.  On a weekly basis, take the time to consider each of these nine questions.  Actually plan to encourage someone in nine unique ways.  Dig!  Think!  Pray for guidance.  As you do, names, needs, or events will come to mind.  Write them down, and make an appointment with yourself to take action.

As you follow through with your planned encouragement, you will soon discover many unplanned ways to be an encourager as well.  You’ll find yourself thinking like an encourager, not because it’s a homework assignment, but because it is a part of your character.

The Bible makes it clear:  we are to “encourage one another” (Hebrews 3:13).  God wants to use you to make a difference in someone else’s life.  And as you develop the heart of an encourager, you’ll discover that the encouragement you need will never be far away.

[email protected] July 23, 2009 at 9:08 am

Great advice! I need to work on this. I’d like to be more encouraging to those around me, but it isn’t always easy for some reason. I guess it is like you say, we must practice it and make it a part of our everyday thinking for it to come natural.

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