Encourage the Discouraged

by James Rudy Gray

In their book, Time for a Better Marriage, Jon Carlson and Don Dinkmeyer write, "Encouragement is the force that builds a happy marital relationship." Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, nor forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."

To encourage is to inspire with hope, courage, or confidence. Encouraging a person is like cheering for him.  It is not flattery but it is positive. 

Encouragement is the antidote, at least in part, for those who are discouraged. We know encouragement is a good thing. We even know how to define it. We know we should do it, especially in marriage. The question is "How?"

Teaching people the importance of encouragement plus modeling encouragement in your own life as a counselor or pastor is powerful. Some encouragement keys with great potential which we can model and teach are:

<![if !supportLists]>         <![endif]>Love-Encouragement is an expression of love. Love is a way we show the other person we value him or her. Acceptance is a significant ingredient in loving someone. Appreciating him is another. Love is more than a feeling. It is sacrificial, not conditional. Love is a choice we make to do the right and best thing. Encouragement is one of the ways we express love.

<![if !supportLists]>         <![endif]>Demonstrate confidence-Another person feels encouraged when we demonstrate by words and deeds that we have confidence in him. It is easy to point out faults, especially for certain personality types. It takes discipline to take the time, think through the situation, and deliberately show another person you have confidence in him.

<![if !supportLists]>         <![endif]>Recognize accomplishment-Most people are encouraged when something they have accomplished is recognized by the people they respect. When their accomplishments are recognized, they are likely to feel encouraged and motivated to continue a positive course of development. It is important to recognize accomplishment when it occurs.

<![if !supportLists]>         <![endif]>Emphasize strengths-Pointing out the strengths of another person is like a baseball scout discovering a tremendous talent in the backwoods somewhere. It is affirming the strengths and skills that are present, though they may not be developed to their potential. When a person fails to recognize or respond to another's strengths it can be a sign of his own sense of inadequacy.

Discouraged people often feel like they are trapped in a prison of powerlessness. They feel as if nothing can change and then begin to act out that attitude in their behavior.

Discouraged people need a counselor or helper who can be a good and empathic listener. In counseling, we listen not to agree with the client but to understand how they are thinking and what they are feeling. Quite often in the process of simply showing acceptance to discouraged individuals, we open the door of healing for their wounded spirits.

Genuine enthusiasm can be a powerful tool. It generates positive energy and helps provide a basis for hopeful thinking in the client.

It is also helpful to lead a client to write down the most encouraging things that have happened to him or her during the past week or two. Encouragement may sometimes be rejected, at least at first, because the person has moved into a victim-type way of thinking. His sense of inadequacy seems to dominate his thinking. Such persons are often chronically discouraged because of misbeliefs such as "everyone should like me" or "the world should be fair," etc. Writing down encouraging things that have recently happened can put them into a more constructive thinking mode. The process itself can yield some encouragement for the person. 

It is often a breakthrough when a person comes to accept the truth that everything that happens may not be right but it is real.  By accepting reality, a person can then move forward in personal growth. If he fails to accept reality, he can easily become disillusioned or discouraged.

God can use honest and repeated encouragement as an effective tool as we seek to help those struggling with discouragement.

James Rudy Gray is certified as a professional counselor by the National Board for Certified Counselors, and is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He pastors Utica Baptist Church in Seneca, S.C.

<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad