You can practice encouragement in eight simple ways;
- Speaking. Proverbs 16:24 says pleasant words bring healing to the bones. Lift someone by telling how you appreciate a certain positive quality in them. When I was discouraged halfway through holding seven estate sales, a neighbor boosted me by simply saying, “You have things so clean and nicely arranged.” When appropriate, share a scripture that helped you in a hard time.
- Writing. It needn’t be lengthy–even a post card will do. But a note saying “I care” or “I’m praying” will mean much to someone who is lonely, grieving, or discouraged about wayward family members, unemployment, or health issues.
- Presence. Psalm 34:18 says the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, but often the Lord sends us in person on His behalf. Remember the observation of social scientists: that only one-fourth of communication is verbal. Even when we don’t know what to say, just being there encourages.
- Touching. During His earthly ministry, Jesus constantly touched people, including “untouchables” like lepers and a bleeding woman. Scientists have now documented the positive effects of touch–but God knew that long ago! Anything from a light touch on the forearm to a tight hug can communicate that you care.
- Helping. Sometimes people feel like a laden ocean liner needing a tugboat to nudge it into a safe dock. Helpers use ordinary skills to encourage others. They may sew or mend, do odd jobs or shopping, rock a baby for a harried new mom, take an invalid to the doctor, or show up with an old pickup when somebody needs to move.
- Giving. Proverbs 21:26 says the righteous person gives without sparing. “Givers” recognize situations where money, food, clothing, or the loan of equipment will better lift people out of their encouragement.
- Hospitality. Simply loving people by providing a meal or bed in the name of Christ. This ministry can target people whose life situations make them “emotional strangers,” such as those hurting from marriage breakups, financial problems, or physical challenges.
- Praying. No matter your circumstances, you can–and must–pray. Kenneth, a stroke victim, can move nothing but his eyes, but several ministry leaders send him their prayer requests. Jot prayer needs in a small notebook, and follow up with a note or phone call.
Let God show you which “ministry” of encouragement best fits you. Then simply do it. You’ll be lifted up as you lift up others for Him.