Marjorie Lamb

I like the sound of this word—the soft "g" and the long vowels are musical, perhaps also because the word "courage" is there. To be an encourager does involve courage because it means getting involved in someone else’s life, and to do this carries great responsibility. It may only mean a casual, passing involvement when no great thing is at stake, but today we are trying to think of the encouragement which could change the course of someone else’s life. Have we any right to do this unless we are asked for help? Many would draw back from being involved—perhaps from lack of courage, certainly from a fear of doing wrong.

But life demands taking risks as well as taking care and we need courage to take a risk, not to be too fearful.

We all make mistakes in our lives and can grow into a habit of looking back feeling we have achieved very little and have made too many wrong decisions. We grow into a habit of negative thinking and need help. Someone needs to draw us out of this habit and encourage us into the present and back into a feel-good situation.

It is easy to discourage—it really only needs the lack of encouragement. Many people have this habit of discouragement as they say "don’t try", "don’t bother", "don’t waste your time, it isn’t worth it". When people get discouraged their conversation becomes miserable and they drag other people down. Their conversation and actions depress others and it takes a great deal of sustained encouragement to overcome their effects. It only takes one person to discourage whilst it can take several to undo this and change the negative into positive.

Being an encourager means getting to know another person well, an intuitive knowing, a sympathy reaching out. It also means being alert with all our antennae working.

We do need to ask ourselves if it is always right to encourage. Can it sometimes be wrong, foolhardy? How do we see ourselves in this? An encouraging person sounds so pleasant, positive, life enhancing and we like to see ourselves like this whilst a feeling of warning, of caution, think before you speak or act is like a douche of cold water. Can we take criticism if we find we have been mistaken?

But we should not be put off encouraging—there is not enough of it about. Don’t let us belittle it. There are so many levels of encouragement—from encouraging a small child to jump into the water, to helping one’s teenagers to head in the right direction of training and independence. We face the nervousness of the young as they go to school, to work, face leaving home. We stand by as they make friends, and ultimately leave home and make a place of their own.

We all get depressed and negative and need help, we need to be noticed and remembered, to be given a spontaneous hug, a little treat, a chance to talk. To encourage is to be positive in what seems a negative or depressed situation. It can fan the will to live and may revive the will when all else is failing and it then carries its own reward when we see this happening.

It can promote invention and the development of gifts which otherwise lie unused and never be realised. Sometimes it only takes a word spoken by chance. We rarely know the influence we have but someone hears, takes notice or is redirected by something we say or something we do.

Encouragement can promote relationships which the shy and retiring would have shunned. With encouragement and real interest their lives become much better, doors open, they go through and find they can cope and so enjoy opportunities and new friendships. We need to stand by and let them know that we care.

The Everyman Series of books always had a sentence inside the first page which keeps coming into my mind as I think about this subject of encouraging. It goes like this:- "Everyman, I will go with thee and be thy guide, in thy most need be by thy side". I don’t know who wrote it but it seems so relevant to this discussion of "encouragers".