Guest Writer: Alesia Campbell
For decades I’ve had the privilege of knowing Delores and James Fields. On numerous occasions I’ve been a benefactor of their ability to share words of comfort and encouragement. I must add that I don’t know two other people who are more suited to run a ministry called “Comfort and Encouragement”. Their kindness and application of God’s Word was often timely as I endured various trials and discouragement. I will always be grateful for their prayers and acts of caring.
As believers we are ALL called to help comfort and encourage one another. In the body of Christ, we definitely need each other.
Hebrews 10:24–“Let us think of ways to encourage one another…”
1 Thessalonians 5:14–“… take tender care of those who are weak.”
Galatians 6:2 NLT—“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
The Greek word for encourage is “Parakaleo” and it also means to help strengthen. Are you actively engaged in ways to help strengthen others? Are you offering words of encouragement and building up others or are you offering negative words which do nothing to help? Whining, grumbling and complaining rarely help improve a situation. You may think you are sympathizing with a person who is struggling, but it is rarely beneficial. Negative words are depleting.
In the three scriptures above, encouraging or helping others is really not a suggestion. They strongly instruct us to encourage, care, and lift each other up. And, in these current times, there are a lot of folks who sure could use it!
Some people have a natural way of encouraging others. It seems their personality is more pleasant and positive. They look on the bright side of things and rarely get discouraged even during difficult times. Perhaps they have the spiritual gift of encouragement. Some really seem to have the hang of it. So, should we just let them be the ones to go about encouraging others? The obvious answer is NO.
You may be wondering how you can do a better job of this. You may neglect to be there for others because you feel ill-equipped or not capable. Based on my experiences with the Fields, and others who have also ministered to my heart when I greatly needed it, I’ve listed ten basic ideas which may help.
- Ask the Lord to reveal someone whom you need to contact. Think of who is going through a discouraging time or enduring ongoing hardships. Do you know someone who is currently struggling in some way? Be sensitive to the Lord’s leading. You don’t have to know them very well and perhaps it’s an acquaintance whom you rarely see. Often the Lord uses His children to reveal His love and provision so ask Him to direct you to the person for whom He wants you to minister. And, the Lord may want you just to encourage a friend whom you have no idea whether or not there is a problem in their life. Just encourage them!
- Ask the Lord to prepare your heart and help you be willing and ready to reach out to someone with encouragement. Ask Him to empower you for the task. Ask God to fill your heart with love so you can serve with the right attitude and motivation.
- Reach out and express your concern to a person in need. A nice, sincere, and uplifting message goes a long way! Write a note or card. Call, text or email them. Or show up in person for a short visit. It’s all about letting them know you are thinking of them, you care, and that you are sorry they are going through the difficulty. We seem to have forgotten how to do this in our American culture and we have lots of excuses, but truly the smallest act of kindness can mean a lot.
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet and delightful to the soul and healing to the body.” Proverbs 16:24 (AMP)
- Encourage with a scripture verse. Often times the Holy Spirit will put a verse on your heart to share. You can Google search for any particular verse you have in mind (putting technology to good use). God’s Word will not return void.
- Ask to pray with the person. Who knows, you may be the only one praying with them! Ask God to bless that person with divine strength, peace, provision and care. And continue praying for the person later.
- Offer to help. Think of some practical acts of service which would be a great encouragement such as sharing a meal, mowing a lawn, paying a utility bill, running an errand, driving them somewhere, etc. Just running by with a cup of Starbucks coffee or special snack can be uplifting to some people. But, DO SOMETHING! Your kindness and thoughtfulness will touch their heart.
- Be willing to listen. This does not necessarily mean telling your own similar story. Give your full attention to hearing what they have to say. Put away electronic devices which distract. Make eye contact and ask questions to show you’re interested. Seek to understand their perspective as they are going through this battle.This helps you gain valuable insight into their struggles and may help you gain a plan for their additional aid.
- Advise only if you are sure they are ready to receive advice. It’s easy to hastily express your opinions, but it’s best to ask them first before you state them. This is especially true if you don’t know the person very well. However, in all situations, definitely console and express you care about them which is often times better than advice. It may not be a teachable moment so refrain. And also please refrain from judgement.
- Compliment them for the way they are helping themselves and for the good things which are already happening. A word of praise and affirmation lets them know you notice the positive aspects at work and this sure can be emotionally bolstering and edifying.
- Express hope! Let them know God is at work behind the scenes. He cares very deeply for them and He has a plan for their situation. Assure them the Lord is mighty to help and deliver. And, that He has a purpose for all we endure. Encourage them to wait on the Lord and His timing and trust Him. Also, remind them that they are not alone.
In conclusion, do not let the enemy tell you that you are too inexperienced or broken to help someone else. God repeatedly uses broken or unlikely people to get His work done and share His grace. Simply having a willing heart to be used by the Lord is what is most essential. Then step into the role of encouragement with His leading and empowering. Watch Him do the work through you!
And, after reaching out with encouragement, don’t second guess yourself wondering if what you did or said was well-received. You may never know the impact you made. You may never receive a thank you note, but regardless, keep doing the work by being obedient to the Lord. Needs will be met, people will be edified, and our Heavenly Father will be glorified.
Matthew 5:16–“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”