Love and Encouragement  
By: Jenny Teets

 

 

It's that time of year that florist shops and candy stores do tremendous business.  Love is showered on loved ones with gifts and valentines cards.  Love gets special attention whether out of genuine affection or duty.  It is a time for reflection on the meaning of love!

 

One of the components of real love is to care about another person as much as we care about ourselves.  Agape love, or Christian love, is of an altruistic and unselfish nature.  When one considers the church environment, we know of countless people who give of themselves to the welfare of the church.  Many of these members have titles, and their work is well known.  What isn't very well known, or given much importance are the people in the church that generate encouragement!   Encouragement means:  1., to give somebody hope, confidence, or courage 2., to motivate somebody to take a course of action or continue doing something 3., to foster something such as: to assist something to occur or increase.

 

An encourager is a very special person.  First, they have already overcome their own self-centeredness and self-interests in order to look onto other people.  They do not need the limelight; they have reached a plateau of maturity where they see the needs of other people quickly and clearly.  They become like a spotlight themselves; they shine brightness onto others who need to be brightened up.  They warm the person who is so shriveled up from the community that they are depressed.  The encourager doesn't have to wait until there is a special time to show the bright smile, nor do they wait for a holiday such as Christmas, or a birthday to send out some cheer.

To be a true encourager, one must be sincere in a love for people!  They must sense the moods of individuals.  They will know when it is proper to mourn with someone; laugh with someone; cry with someone and rejoice with someone.  They will not only rejoice with a person who  has  a new baby, a new job or a new car, but they will empathize with a person who has just lost a job, a new baby or wrecked a new car.  Encouragement can never come from a heart that has been 'trained' to hand out flattery like sweets, nor can it come from a 'plastic,' stylized personality that is totally insincere.   During periods of crisis, people are usually more emotional and sensitive than at any other time, thus an ill-framed remark can hurt their feelings quicker at such a time!  Terrible family feuds have been started during funerals, weddings, childbirth or other stressful times, because of a lack of sensitivity. On the other hand, carefully crafted words of encouragement and love can heal wounded spirits.

While one doesn't train to be an encourager, perhaps a study of the art may be advisable! Observations of a person’s actions give a hint to the beholder.  Someone may not be crying at all, but the look of despondency and misery can be unmistakable. Being familiar with a person does make the way easier should you wish to be their encourager. Sometimes words are not even the encouragement a person needs; an arm thrown simply around their shoulder, a hand squeeze, a sympathetic look of understanding or a listening ear may prove to be more helpful than any spoken word. 

Why do we suppose that there are people who are above encouragement?  Many ministers exude the vibes and aura of wisdom and utmost confidence, and never appear 'under the weather' like many of us do.  This is simply not the case.  Every speaker, whether he feels he did a tremendous job, or had a very poor performance does not draw all of his confidence from having his own self-approval.  He needs feedback.  Perhaps his wife will give him feedback, but it might be of a negative nature?  Perhaps the members of the congregation have shown him their indifference by leaving quickly after an average sermon.  He looks around to see what effect, if any, his sermon had on anyone.  It is a great time to encourage your pastor, after he has bared his soul to his flock.  It is just not true that he gets a lot of compliments on his sermon, so yours won't make any difference.

Who else do we admire, yet don't realize that they may appreciate a word of encouragement? What about the workers around the church?  There are many helpers and workers behind the scenes who do not get any acknowledgements for their labor.  Everyone feels good when they are appreciated for a job well done!  If one begins to look for the good in everyone, they will begin to feel uplifted and encouraged themselves; a positive disposition has a way of shining back love and joy from others.

 

Jenny Teets is minister’s wife, mother of 4 children and grandmother of 7.  She and her husband last pastored New Life Apostolic Church in NYC for 26 years. They were missionaries to Uruguay for 6 years and have also pastored in other churches in USA.  Jenny received a master’s degree in Philosophy at Queens College in NYC.  She was the ladies president of NY Metro District for 12 years and has authored a book, “Married to Ministry.”

 

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