Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Christian encouragement is a command. But like the command to evangelize, we often find it awkward to employ in everyday life. It doesn’t have to be awkward, though. Like any other skill, we get better at it with practice.
Words matter. As soon as God created mankind, he engaged him verbally. Merely speaking with (not at) people can affirm their existence. You talk to me; therefore, in a sense, I am. Simply greeting someone who walks through a room can be affirming to the individual and uplifting to everyone in the environment. And like water to a dry garden, speech has the strange and wonderful power to penetrate the soul and bring refreshment. A good word overcomes anxiety:
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad” (Proverbs 12:25).
Words have been endowed with the capacity to change lives, to bring arresting transformation. They have the curious and uncanny power to make living things die or bring dead things to life: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21).
I have enjoyed a personal care giving ministry for many years. In 1985, I became a Stephen Minister through my church and spent two years being trained to work with women in crisis. At that time, I learned that I had a special gift to take crisis calls even during the night. I would listen, pray, and roll over and go back to sleep. Not everyone can do that, but it works for me!
A telephone ministry can be effective and efficient today especially with the speed of life. I find it important to follow up with friends and relationships to show my concern, encourage their hopes and dreams. And yes, PRAY! Sometimes I’ve even been known to text a scripture to encourage someone before the crack of dawn!
My mother was a thoughtful card sender and I have modeled after her in that way. When living in Hicksville, Ohio, I learned how to make handmade greeting cards which became a passion. For me, it is very relaxing to do with a group of friends or instructor. It is great therapy to send cards for any occasion. It demonstrates that I have personally invested in myself creating the cards to encourage another—in good times as well as during stormy seas.
Another way to show that I care is by sending a clever note pad, napkins that say something silly, or even a coloring book of Mermaids if the friends lives near the seashore. I call these items “consumable greeting cards.” Again, it demonstrates your love and concern.
The other day I got an email acknowledging an encouraging note I had written to a friend who is a new blog writer. She said she will place that card in her Gratitude Journal. That blessed my heart that I had blessed hers!
I once had a friend whose only transportation was her bicycle. Someone backed into her uptown; she was injured and her bicycle was totaled. Since I realized she had no transportation to get to the Laundromat, I asked if she would “trust me with her underwear” so I could do her laundry for her. And she did! I found a need and filled it…
Commend someone for the (sensitivity, kindness, compassion, etc.) with which he treated a third party. You noticed, and so does God. Now, just DO it either verbally or with a written note!
And last, but not least, while you are encouraging others, don’t forget your husband and family. Just as God decisively chose Paul in Acts 9, tell your spouse, “I chose you, and I still do.”
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Leave your comments about your caregiver journey or someone you know who has taken on this role below.