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Entries in encouragement (2)



Yesterday I talked with three different friends on three different topics. A couple of them came to me for advice and counsel, one was just offering encouragement. But all three ended up giving me counsel and inspiration in areas of my life where I hadn't even realized there was a need!

That's the way it works when two or more gather in His name.

When two or more Christians come together, they feed and strengthen each other. Their intention to help each other and to serve and glorify God creates synergy (I know ... over-used word from 90s business. But as one friend points out to me, words matter. Words have power!). Christians, coming together with their minds open and their hearts willing, can make anything happen.

My friend Rick called to chat about a few things he's interested in. He wanted some practical advice, and I am always MORE than happy to give that, even if I don't have any! But it turned out that I did have some things I could contribute, and in our sharing he said some things that gave me a great sense of joy and strength. I felt closer to God by being closer to one of God's children. 

At one point I quoted my favorite Zig Ziglar quote:

You will get allyou want in life if you help enough other people get what they want. 

—Zig Ziglar

He immediately saw a connection to a quote from Norman Schwarzkopf:

"You can't help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself."

—H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Bam! Two Christian brothers share two quotes that express one idea to rule them all. I like that. And I might never have encountered that quote, and might never have gained a bit of "wisdom reinforcement" from it, without putting heads together with a Christian friend.

Another of my trusted Christian friends, Marshal, gave me some wisdom about the length of these blog entries, and that is (in part) why I'm about to wrap this up for the morning. He was gracious enough not to out-and-out call me a windbag (though he's not one to shy away from telling it like it is), but he did say that there are times when I could have ended a post a bit sooner than I did. It's the kind of brevity-through-editing that I require from writers who work for me, so how could I demand any less of myself? 

I realized that he's right, and that I need to take a closer look when I'm writing these posts, the same way I look at work I do for my work, and find where the "fat" can be trimmed. 

But he also said that sometimes the message may not be FOR him. And that makes a lot of sense to me, too. Sometimes, when I'm reading, I think, "Yeah, yeah, Author X. Enough already. I get the point! Move along!" That's me filtering the work through my own knowledge and experience. But another reader, someone who hasn't been exposed to the ideas as often as I have, may find it vital, even enthralling, and may need that extra verbiage to really get a full grasp of the concept.

So if I go a little long at times, just bear with me. When I write these posts, I pray first, and ask God to give me the words that will glorify Him, reach others in His name, and reach me as well. Somtimes that will mean that what I'm writing isn't meant for you (or isn't entirely meant for you). I may actually be talking to me!

The short of it all is this: Even if you don't feel you need counsel right now, talk to your Christian friends. Look into their needs. Offer them everything you can. Do it in God's name and to His glory. Because you'll likely find that they can offer you strength and encouragement in areas where you didn't even realize you needed it.



Today I got a word of encouragement.

So it's a funny thing, but I don't actually take encouragement well. I mean, I'm grateful for it. Love it, actually. I do like knowing that I'm doing well, that I'm appreciated. It makes all the difference in the world.

But what I mean is, I don't have a canned response for taking a real, genuine compliment. I can accept praise for something I've created. I can quip about deadlines or workload, and the super heroics needed to master both. I have responses for almost any casual question you can ask. But tell me you're proud of me? Man, I nearly dissolve into a blubbery mass.

We don't always know just how desparately we need that word of encouragment. Just a simple, "I think you're doing a great job" is enough to turn the tide and make a day go from so-so to so-yeah!

And maybe it's good that I don't have a canned response for that. It has a deeper impact. It means the praise is genuine, and therefore more heartening.

Sometimes we start to feel that no one is noticing those little things we do throughout the day. The "get by" syndrome we all seem to live in tends to make us numb. We forget that, just like our kids or our friends or our spouses, we need to hear something good about ourselves, too. If we don't, we start to doubt, somewhere inside, that we're doing things right. We start to wonder what everyone is saying about us, and we become more and more certain that it's not good.

God has a word for us, I think. Our problem is we don't spend enough time listening for Him. We get into our own heads, our own routines, our own funk, and we forget that there's a voice there, calling gently, saying that He loves us.

Don't forget that. You're loved. Really. Truly. Without doubt. And if you need that word of encouragement in your life, I can honestly tell you ... you are wonderful. You are beloved. Thank you thank you thank you for being YOU. God loves you. I love you. And you are doing an absolutely fantastic job with your life.