Encouragement is not praise.
Encouragement combats the question that can nag at all of us, “Do I have what it takes?”
Or, “Am I good enough?”
Central Illinois is ridiculously flat. But in my area, we have two small hills. Back in HS, I’d jog the mile from my home to one of the hills to run sprints before jogging back home. This past week, my family and I visited the other hill in town.
Our four year-old twins Andrew and Malachi bolted up the 100 ft. hill. Theresa and I followed. But our little man, Dominic, stayed at the bottom. His older brothers went up and down a few times before calling out to him from the top.
“Let’s go Dom!”
“You can do it!”
I don’t know what was going through Dom’s head at 22 months old. He could’ve been scared or intimidated. Or he could’ve just been ready for his nap. But here’s what I do know — he didn’t start moving until his brothers started cheering him on.
He went from whiny and discouraged to enthused and emboldened (Check it out)!
It reminds me of how one coach encouraged me before a big game. He didn’t put me through more drills or show me extra game film. He simply communicated his belief in me, and he did it through a challenge. He said, “We need you to show up and play your game tomorrow night. You’re capable of more, so stop holding back and let loose.”
The next night, I scored 20 in the second half to help lead my team to the win.
Encouragement is powerful. And in reflection, I realize how frequently I miss the opportunities to encourage those around me. Everyday there are numerous moments to lift up others. The challenge is to get out of my own way and see the potential in others…and then call it out of them. Not with false praise or empty words. But with genuine encouragement. John Maxwell said, “Encouragement is oxygen for the soul. It takes very little effort to give, but the return in others is huge.”
Give more — more hope, more belief, more courage.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11