Encouragement: What does it really mean?
What is encouragement? A couple of years ago I read a blog on encouragement, authored by leadership skills expert Orrin Woodward, and it had a profound impact in my life.
The root word for encourage comes from an old French word corage – which means heart. To have courage can be thought of as “to have heart.” The prefix ‘en’ in encourage means “to make or put in.” To encourage someone can be literally translated as to give heart or to put heart in someone.
There is a lot of discouragement in today’s world. You don’t have to go too far to find a story on the doom of our economy, the violence in the world, unemployment rising etc. There is enough negative out there to make life seem rather hopeless. On top of that, we have our own “news station” in our heads reminding us of negative in our personal lives. It is interesting how the negative voice in our head screams at us with a megaphone, while the positive voice is just a notch above whisper. What can we do about it? Encourage!
Here is a quote from retired Pastor Stuart Briscoe in a recent post on encouragement.
“A ministry of encouragement helps to redress that balance [between negative and positive thinking]. It helps those you are encouraging to focus on the positives alongside the negatives. Those who are discouraged have need of a sharpened focus. They need a solid base under them. They need to have a balanced view of life. They need to project into the future.
When you help people do this, you give them hope, you give them confidence, you give them comfort. All these things are wrapped up in the word encouragement. And anybody can do that… including you.”
My wife and I lead an organization of hundreds of people utilizing the resources and mentoring from the TEAM leadership skills training group founded by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady. Below are some recommendations for resources that have helped us understand and successfully implement the concept of encouragement.
- McGinnis, Alan L. Bringing Out the Best in People. Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1985.
- Crabb, Lawrence J., Allender, Dan. Encouragement: The Key to Caring. Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.
- Many selections from John Maxwell (just start with one and enjoy the collective wisdom).
Set a goal for how many people you will encourage this week. “Give them heart” that they are loved by a God who believes they are worthy of an excellent life and have a purpose greater than themselves.
God Bless. Matt