7 Practical Ways To Cultivate A Spirit Of Encouragement

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you know what it's like to be discouraged.

At some point in our day ... week ... year ... life, circumstances beyond our control take over. Our expectations aren't met and the next thing you know, you're holding a pity party for yourself. It might take a while to shake yourself out of it, but eventually those feelings go away and your life returns to normal - whatever that looks like.

So if you know what it feels like to be discouraged, you should be able to easily recognize it in other people, right?

Maybe you can and maybe you can't, but often the problem is that we just plain don't.

God calls us to be women of encouragement. He very specifically wants us to lift each other up in troubling times and remind one another of life's blessings.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

If you're interested in cultivating a spirit of encouragement, read on. Here are seven practical ways to get out of your personal bubble and be an encouragement to those who desperately need it.

Keep your eyes open. It's incredibly easy to go about your day with blinders on. You've got x-number of things that need to get done in x-number of hours. But with your head down, pressing forward, you don't take the time to look up and around and see what other people are going through. It's OK to be productive, but you can also be aware of what's going on in the lives of those around you. Otherwise, it's all about you and not about helping where you're needed.

Pray - and not just a "be with her in a special way." Call out to God on behalf of those you're now paying attention to. Pray about the struggles you see and those that only God knows about. Be specific if you can - ask questions, find out what the needs are and then take time to hit your knees and intercede. It may seem like prayer is the very least you can do, but it's also the most powerful thing you can do.

Offer your time, your talents, your checkbook. Now that you know where the needs are, make a move in that direction. After seeing the discouragement in a sister in Christ and praying about how you can help, offer to help meet that need. She may never need you to help pay a bill or have a girls afternoon out, but just knowing you're available can make all the difference. Sometimes the battle with loneliness and discouragement can be overwhelming, and having a partner to help when you've fallen can change lives.

Do something completely anonymously. Be victorious in the battle with your pride. Pride says, "Look what I did to help that woman! She's better now because I ..." Instead, do something that you will never receive thanks for - this side of heaven. Your name doesn't have to be engraved on everything you do, so look for little ways to help and encourage without anyone ever knowing. Write an encouraging verse on a note card and leave it in her pew. Leave a treat or bag of groceries on her porch as a surprise. Plan something that you would normally never do and follow through when no one's looking.

Help out. Pitch in where you're needed. Yes, your time is precious, but there's no better way to spend it than taking the load off someone else's shoulders. Grab a towel and help do dishes after church fellowship. Volunteer to stay in the nursery so some young moms can go to Sunday school or stay in the service. Find out if any of the widows in your church family need help running errands. The sacrifice of your time can mean the world to a woman who's battling discouragement.

Send a note of encouragement. Handmade, snail mail, email, text - it doesn't matter how. Just touch base, share a few kind words and a Scripture and end with a smile. It only takes a few minutes, but the results will be amazing. When you're wallowing in discouragement, you can often think that no one's paying attention and no one cares. Words show that you were thinking about them when they weren't there, you cared enough to spend your time writing them, and that you think they're important.

Know the Scriptures so you know what to share. Discouragement doesn't stand a chance against the Word of God, but what if you don't know what to say? If you're not studying and learning, you don't have the ammunition necessary to fight the fight. But if you know specific verses, chapters and passages to share, you can be a powerful tool for the Lord. So read daily, study daily and pray daily that God will give you exactly what you need when you need it. Then you can be a ready vessel, meet for the Master's use.


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