Humans are drawn to people and cultures that model encouragement. Everyone likes being valued, positively motivated, and given hope for the future, but Christians know this longing goes deeper, originating from an innate desire for the God who gives encouragement (Romans 15:5).
God commands all Christians to model Him by growing in this trait (Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 5:11). But how exactly do we develop a habit of uplifting others?
Here are three practical tips to help you establish an encouraging spirit.
1. Let displays of excellence point you to the people behind them.
Our world is filled with examples of excellence, from the beauties of nature to man-made innovations, acts of service, and displays of art. The former points to the glory of the Creator (Romans 1:20) while the latter points to both the glory of God who formed people in His image and bestows gifts, and the glory of individual creators. It’s easy, however, to enjoy the fruit of excellence without honoring or encouraging those who did the work to produce it.
Take, for example, something as seemingly simple as the person who runs the sound booth at your church. It’s easy to enjoy participating in the environment of a well-produced worship set without it ever crossing one’s mind to thank the person who’s laboring in the booth to make it happen, not to mention the singers, musicians, and other church servants involved.
Instead of just experiencing excellence, let it trigger you to encourage the people who bring it about. Anytime you’re moved by “whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable,” or “anything praiseworthy,” think about the God and people who made it so (Philippians 4:8). Then, act on that prompting by taking the time to encourage others in their gifts and willingness to serve.
Whether you’re enjoying a good meal or a well-crafted social media post, stop to acknowledge the people behind such displays of excellence. This is one of the most natural ways to develop a habit of encouraging others.
2. Act in the moment.
Once you’re in the practice of recognizing people to encourage, you need a plan to act on it. This can be as simple as responding in the moment when the Lord brings someone to mind by texting or emailing them.
A simple message that says, “Great job on that thing you did” or “Praying for you” (accompanied by actual prayer, of course), might only take a few minutes of your time, but it could make someone else’s day or act as the lifeline God uses to help get them through a difficult season.
Too often, we think highly and fondly of others, but never get around to expressing that sentiment. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings.” Don’t stockpile golden apples in settings of good intentions. Get in the habit of encouraging people in the moment as God brings them to mind.
3. Schedule encouragement.
Many times, encouraging people in the moment isn’t an option due to an activity you can’t pull away from or because you know a person needs a longer message, phone call, or face-to-face get together. If so, approach encouragement the way you would any activity on your to-do list—schedule it.
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Any productivity system you already use can be adapted to include encouragement. I use two tools to intentionally lift up others: a free Trello account where I list people to reach out to alongside my other daily and weekly tasks, and my Google Calendar.
The latter is especially useful for scheduling encouragement when someone tells me they have an event coming up they need prayer for as Google sends me a notification the day of. In less than five minutes, I can pray for my friend and fire off a text to let them know they were on my mind that morning. It’s amazing the impact this simple act of remembrance and intentionality makes on people.
If you’ve never scheduled encouragement, give it a try. Decide right now on three people you want to encourage this coming week and plug each name into your calendar on a different day. This simple act will give you a practical system that will help you grow more accustomed to focusing on the needs of others throughout the week.
Reorient your perspective.
Encouraging people doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does takes intentionality. It also requires a different mindset in the way we approach people and social settings.
Take social media, an industry that thrives on getting people to ask the question, “How can I get others to notice me today?” A spirit of encouragement flips that question on its head by asking, “How can I bless others through this platform?”
Or consider the workplace, where self-promotion is often seen as key to climbing the ladder of success. Instead of asking, “How can I get the chain of command to recognize my accomplishments and skills,” an encourager approaches work with a servant’s mindset that says, “How can I help others here feel valued and achieve their best?”
In this way, Christ-honoring encouragement flows from a transformed heart, unlike flattery or lip service that has the appearance of godliness but comes instead from self-serving interests.
Choose to Be Better Together.
All businesses, ministries, neighborhoods, and networks engage in activities that require their people to work together. Whether or not that togetherness makes cultures better, however, is up to the attitude team members bring to the table.
Make an intentional choice today to be better together by growing in encouragement and taking practical steps to lift up the people God has brought into your life.