I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog How to Become an Encourager

When we’re discouraged, we long for someone, anyone, to notice and respond. Think of those times your whole outlook changed and you were encouraged by something as simple as a note, a friend willing to take time to listen, a smile or touch, like a squeeze on the shoulder. We may never know how our words or actions of encouragement have helped someone, but how much better to encourage than discourage by our attitudes and actions. Sometimes, it takes so little in the way of time and effort to encourage a friend.

Everyone has times of discouragement and needs, at times, to be encouraged. We can either ignore what’s going on with someone in need of encouragement and become part of the problem or we can take steps to be part of the solution, helping to dissipate discouragement.

We can become encouragers. How?

We can write notes of appreciation. Knowing what we do has meaning and has made a difference to someone is what makes our efforts worthwhile. While receiving a card and/or letter in the mailbox is wonderful, we don’t need to limit our encouragement to snail mail. Email is a more immediate way to convey encouragement. We don’t need to write a book, often just a few words, maybe even an appropriate e-card will be all that’s needed to lift the spirits of a discouraged friend or family member. Using Facebook messenger or texting is a quick way to reach a person who needs encouragement. Don’t be afraid to use whatever method works best for the situation.

Friends and family aren’t the only ones in need of encouragement. We can also write notes of encouragement to those in less than ideal circumstances who might feel lonely, depressed or discouraged, such as care-home residents, hospital patients or solders stationed in some far-flung area of the world. Several years ago when I was in the hospital for 2 ½ month, my friend took the time to find out what she needed to do, did it, and brought her little dog Sammi for a visit. Sammi is rather shy. I laughed when she borrowed under the covers to my feet before settling beside me so I could pet her. My friend made my day..

Another way to encourage is to lend a listening ear. A visit or telephone call can be a lifeline of encouragement to someone who is discouraged. Sometimes we all need someone, not to talk or to give advice, but just to listen with compassion. Our listening, then, includes not only words or tone of voice, but our whole body language. It means maintaining eye contact and focusing not on what needs doing next on our busy schedule or fiddling with our cell, but focusing on the person who needs a listening heart.

Reach out and touch. When Jesus ministered to people, He went beyond messages or simply listening to reaching out through loving, caring touch. Sometimes what we need, beyond a note or a listening ear, is someone to make physical contact. We can encourage through a hug, a squeeze on the arm or even a touch of the hand. These simple actions, even without words, can mean a world of difference to a discouraged person.

With just a little time and effort we can become encouragers to those around us. Such efforts reap the added bonus of encouraging us as well.

By Carolyn R Scheidies

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