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3 Ways to Move From Complimenting to Offering Soul-Stirring Encouragement

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 

Some people are dangerously near compromising their faith. A word of encouragement from you may put them back on track. – Chuck Swindoll
Chuck’s words strike a chord because I’ve experienced that kind of encouragement firsthand, and perhaps you have too.

Biblical encouragement – the kind that stirs the soul – isn’t fluff that soothes momentarily.

Biblical encouragement is grounded in scripture, offering sincere words and actions that linger, creating a spiritual boost only God can measure. I continue to learn how to shift from giving surface-type compliments to offering genuine soul-stirring encouragement. Here are a few things I’m learning along the way:
Focus on the internal. What actions are we seeing in others? Do we see a servant’s heart? If so, we need to share the specific ways we see Christ-in-action through their lives. And if it’s done in front of someone they respect, even better.
Celebrate! Maybe it’s someone in our youth group, small group, neighbor, or co-worker. Did they conquer a hurdle in their lives? Receive a promotion? Graduate? It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate with them! Send a card, give them a call, or share a small meaningful gift to remind them of God’s hand in their celebration.
Be present. We all fall short of God’s glorious standard. It’s not a matter of if sin happens, but when. So here’s the question: When this happens to someone we love and they refuse to face it, will we choose to quietly fade into the background because it’s the easiest, cleanest thing to do? Or will we, instead, choose to come alongside that person, love them unconditionally, and continue to point them back to Jesus? We may be the only representation of Living Water they know during their driest season.
In Acts 4:36 NIV, Luke translates Barnabas to mean “son of encouragement.” The original Greek word for “encouragement,” paraklesis, means consolation, exhortation, and comfort. Apparently, the apostles who gave Joseph the name Barnabas saw these qualities in his character.
When Jesus sees us, does He see these qualities? Could we be called a daughter of encouragement?
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us
and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort
you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17 NIV

When Encouragement Travels in a Tea Cup

by Cathy Baker

Tea and encouragement. I prayed God would weave them together for a greater purpose. I’d hosted tea parties in my home but sensed God shaping my desire into something even more personal.

One day, while browsing an antique shop in Myrtle Beach, SC, I spotted the answer to my prayer sitting on a shelf, painted in delicate blue/yellow stripes and shaped like a petite one-cup tea-pot. With it, all the other details flowed into place. 

When we returned from the beach, I wasted no time assembling a “Barnie Basket,” Barnie, aka Barnabas,”Son of Encouragement,” from Acts 4:36. 

Each week, I’d pray for God to give me the name of a woman in our church in need of encouragement. On Sunday mornings, I would ask her to meet me at my car after the service. There, I would hand off the basket and point to the enclosed note card for all the details.

In the note, I shared how God had laid her on my heart and that inside the basket was an opportunity for one-on-one tea time with her heavenly Father.

In the basket, I placed: 

  • One answer-to-prayer teapot
  • One teacup, along with an individually-wrapped teabag
  • A journal and pen (the recipient was encouraged to journal about her time with the Lord and to read the entries made by previous recipients.)
  • Homemade cookies, packaged biscotti, or tea cookies
  • A handwritten note
  • Mini-scripture notes written specifically for the recipient

She need only place the teacup, teapot, and journal in the basket to return to me the following Sunday morning. 
 
That was almost twenty years ago.

Five years ago, a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. I desperately wanted to lift her spirits as she would soon face a double mastectomy. Then I remembered that this friend was one of the first recipients of the Barnie Basket all those years ago. I searched my shelves for the journal that had traveled home with so many friends and turned to the page of her entry. In it, she shared in detail how she trusted God above all else — no matter what. I carefully removed the page from the journal and framed it for her, presenting it to her a few days before her surgery. It was a special moment, indeed. 

We never know, do we? But God does. 

Tea Maker
Steeped in His Word
Infused with His love
Sweetened by His Spirit
Stirred from above.
-Patsy Clairmont

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