There is nothing good as encouragement. Our hearts are warmed when we encourage others and are encouraged by others. Our hearts become cold when we judge others and are judged by others. People are lonely. It is hard to live in this world. We often lose a sense of confidence in ourselves. We sometimes lose a sense of assurance in what we do. Even when others tell us that we’re doing well, we often don’t feel like we are doing well. We live with a sense of inferiority. It is difficult to find people who consider themselves as someone great. Most people feel that they fall short. That’s how humans are. What we need is encouragement.
Take a look at the word ‘encouragement’ more closely. Inside the word ‘encouragement,’ the word ‘courage’ is found. Encouragement is putting courage in others. Encouragement is bringing courage in the midst of despair and giving strength to the hopeless. Encouragement is helping others to continue their work and to do it even better. I’ve never seen anyone who has no need of encouragement. I examine myself often. Whenever I examine myself, I feel that I also need encouragement. The best instrument to know people is one’s own heart. I learn the heart of people as I observe my own heart, emotions, and feelings. Then how can we wisely encourage others?
First, we can encourage through praise. Praising is telling others what they are doing well and what they can do well. Praising is different from flattery. Flattery speaks of things that are not there as if they are. But because people’s hearts are frail, they become happy even through flattery. Unlike flattery, praise speaks the truth. People do not know what they are good at. Therefore, others must tell them. In order for us to praise well, we must observe well. When we observe well, other people’s strengths are easily found. In addition, we can also see their potential. Telling others what they are doing well and unveiling their potential is praising. When we are praised, we become conscious of what we are good at and become even better at it.
Second, we can encourage through comfort. Comforting is touching the wounded heart. Comforting is easing one’s sadness. We get hurt when we fail. However, failing doesn’t make us failures. When we fail, we need loving comfort. Failure is the process toward success. Through failures, we are humbled, and we experience growth and maturity. For that reason, failure is absolutely necessary in our lives. Nevertheless, when we fail, it hurts. The experience and pain of failure put a hold on our lives from moving forward. That is when we need comfort. When we are comforted, we begin to embrace courage to start again. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter. When we comfort others we become like God. When we comfort others we experience that the Holy Spirit is with us.
Third, we can encourage by being with others. Just as we experience, people flock to us when we are doing well, and when we are succeeding and prosperous. However, people desert us when we fail, get sick, and become poor. Those who stay with us through those moments of hardships are friends. A friend is someone who stays with you when others are leaving you. Jesus is our eternal friend. Jesus will never forsake us or leave us. Even when all our worldly friends will forsake us, Jesus will never forsake us.
Fourth, we can encourage by filling the needs of others. To encourage is to fill what is lacking. Encouragement can be given by warm words and loving gestures. I often experience how a warm encouraging word can embrace the cold heart. However, sometimes more than just encouraging words, fulfilling the actual needs can be more encouraging. Not all kinds of help can be an encouragement, but when the most appropriate need is met, it can be an unforgettable, life-changing encouragement. People are corrected by chastisement, but they grow through encouragement. For that reason, it is wise to encourage more than to chastise. In order to become an encourager, we must observe well. Observing begins with having interest, which is love. When we observe well, we can share the most appropriate encouragement with others. Encouragement is an art of love. It is an art of having good relationships with others. It is an art of love that establishes a beautiful family and a healthy community. Let us establish a warm community that encourages one another.
Reverend Joshua Choon-Min Kang is the senior pastor of New Life Vision Church, located in Los Angeles. This is one of the weekly letters he writes to his congregation. For the original, visit www.nlvc.org.