Newsletter #523 – Random Words of Encouragement

Mark Driscoll’s new book Who Do You Think You Are? Finding your new identity in Christ encouragement 2looks like a series of sermons put into printed form but they’re engaging, often practical and refreshingly biblical. In one segment Driscoll describes a conference speaker who produced “an absolute buzz,” not because of his speaking but because of his encouraging words. He genuinely was interested in everyone he met, especially in those who served. He looked each person in the eye, sincerely thanked them, encouraged them for the difference they were making at the conference and expressed his appreciation. The man clearly was interested in the people he met. They, in turn, were touched and encouraged by his brief affirmations.

This story reminded me of people who practice random acts of kindness. An Internet search revealed a “Random Acts of Kindness Foundation” and website that encourage random acts of kindness in all of us including children. For years I’ve engaged people in what might be called random words of encouragement. I’d not thought much about this until Driscoll’s book appeared and a friend pointed out how much I do it.  Undoubtedly this comes easier to people whose personalities make it easy to say something encouraging to friends or even strangers. Maybe this is one of those God-given gifts that equip some people to give encouragement innately (Rom. 12:8.)

But couldn’t we all give away random words of encouragement? Try thanking the bus-boy in a restaurant, the check-out cashier in a supermarket, the servers in your church, the janitor someplace. Start at home or where you work. Random words of encouragement can make a big difference, especially among people who rarely hear appreciation or affirmation.  It gets easier when you do it. At times it leads to new, unexpected friendships and it can change the culture of your office. This is easily incorporated into coaching, counseling or leadership.

“Encourage…and build each other up” (1 Thes. 5:11.) “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Eph. 4:29.) Maybe we should all pass on some random words of encouragement this week and suggest that others do the same. Let us know how it goes. Please leave a comment.

17 Comments

  1. I find that I can go about 3-4 months without encouragement. At that point I feel like giving up. That’s when I usually get an encouraging word and I’m good for another 3-4 months. That may seem somewhat austere, but when you’re single, you take whatever you can get.

    Reply

    1. Hey Duane. Can you challenge you? I bet you like encouragement more than every 3-4 months. Let me try right now – and I hope you detect that this is sincere. You are one of the few who takes time to respond to my posts with some frequency. I have no criticisms of folks who never or only occasionally respond. I am in that category. We’re all busy. But thanks for your input. This is usually (maybe always) insightful and upbeat. I think when we give encouragement, even with a few words, we find that encouraging words come back to us more frequently. Keep it up good brother.

      Reply

  2. I agree that we can all do better at this, and that some people are more gifted than others at it,
    I believe those who extend encouraging words more often, have a more loyal following, as long as what they say is true and sincere.
    Though we need to guard against being enablers, by not saying things that need to be said. We just need to say those things in as kind a way as possible.
    Thanks Gary for your faithful, and challenging weekly posting.

    Reply

  3. This is so easy to do, and it makes such a difference in the tone of a home or an office. So often people say the negative things and don’t think to say the positive, even though the positive is almost always there if that’s what you look for.

    Reply

  4. Thank you for this timely reminder to be an encouragement to others. Here in Ontario we are all finding the battle with ice and snow rather discouraging. Remembering to honour and encourage others will be a good antidote and a marvelous way to show forth the love Jesus showed us in His Passion and death. Thank you, Gary, for your encouraging messages to all of us. You are a blessing! Blessings.

    Reply

    1. Thanks for your message from Ontario, Elsie. That is where I grew up – but in Southern Ontario. I bet this past winter was less ice and snow bound than usual – depending on how far North you live. Bright words on dark dull winter days are uplifting. Have you ever noticed how we northerners complain about the winter but we stay – maybe because we like the changing seasons and sometimes even enjoy the cold.

      Reply

  5. I love this post! Thank you. Encouragement fortifies and strengthens.
    I think even if this is a gift, or even if it comes naturally, it is still something we can all develop. At university, a mentor told me he thought I might have the gift of encouragement and I should develop it. Not knowing how to go about that, I just set a goal: I will encourage three people each day before I go to sleep. Each night I evaluated whether I had done that or not. At the beginning, the answer was normally “no”This was before email and texts…my only solution was to write notes of encouragement that could, be mailed or delivered the next day. I had many many late nights…but this exercise, fueled because someone thought i COULD develop this, helped me become aware :a. that I was not encouraging, b. of opportunities to be encouraging and c. of how much I needed to grow as I began.
    I do think encouragement is now my primary gift: i use it in teaching, counseling, coaching, and mentoring. i have used it in parenting my children and in encouraging my husband. Developing this gift has taught me to see potential, possibility and reminded me of God’s awesome power in connecting the dot in our lives, pulling the loose ends together when they least look like anything and making a beautiiful picture from them

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  6. What a simple, yet powerful, idea! And yes, it is true, Gary, that you already make a habit of this. Maybe “random” isn’t quite the word – What about “intentional”? If we intentionally thank people, encourage and affirm them, it does make a profound difference! Thanks!

    Reply

    1. I have a comment about Jenny’s suggestion that words of encouragement are more intentional than random. I think they are both. We don’t often do this without being intentional. But I picked the word “random” because these comments pop up when we have opportunity and we rarely get to plan ahead (sometimes but not always or often).

      Reply

  7. My translation of ´random acts of encouragements` is simply sharing a blessing. A nurse in Austria told me about her struggle in the Statehospital, that she wasn´t allowed to say a word about God, on pains to be fired on the spot. I told her she could always bless a person with her eyes just thinking blessings (to think good words in Jesus Name). Then she was asked to help a male patient in his last moments before death. He was so restless and tossed back and forth. She simply sat next to him and held his hand. He kept restlessly tossing around, moaning. She tried to cath his eyes, al the time thinking a blessing. When she succeeded, he stopped moaning and looked back. He didn´t let go of her eyes anymore. After a while a light smile came on his face. She continued to think blessings. Then he closed his eyes and died. The nurse was elated. She knew that he had understood her.

    There are many situations one can´t say anything, but at least we can as Royal Priests at least bless with our eyes.

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  8. THANKS EVERYBODY. PROBABLY THIS WAS NOT YOUR INTENTION BUT YOU ALL ENCOURAGED ME WITH YOUR COMMENTS – including my own daughter (can you guess who this is?)
    After sending this post I was gone for a few days and thought often of my own words. I do this naturally I think but I focused on it again because of my own newsletter: thanked two different flight attendants, encouraged (I hope) at least one waiter, one restaurant host, several students, a friend who took me from place to place, the lady who prepares breakfast in the hotel and a couple of people behind the check-in desk. After while it gets automatic and it lifts our own spirits. It also does not take long providing we are sincere and, as Bruce notes, is not enabling unhealthy thoughts or behaviors in others. Thanks for reinforcing this.

    Reply

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