December 29, 2012 in City

Resolve to be better at lifting those around you

SteveMassey
 
This column

Three times a month, three community columnists weigh in on matters of faith and values. The Faith and Values column appears Saturday and features artist Donald Clegg of Spokane, retired Methodist minister Paul Graves of Sandpoint, and Steve Massey, a pastor from Hayden.

The notecards started showing up on my desk about a year ago.

On each simple card was written a thoughtful, timely and sincere note of encouragement. Each note buoyed my spirits, infusing me with fresh resolve to serve God and his people with passion.

Such is the power of encouragement.

I’m normally not one to make New Year’s resolutions. But this coming year I think I’ll make an exception: I’d really like to be a better encourager.

As with any New Year’s resolution, this one won’t just happen. This one will take deliberateness, determination and selflessness.

It’s that last ingredient – selflessness – that made the notecards given to me such a treasure. Someone actually took the time to think of another person and thoughtfully impart inspiration.

The Scripture suggests that selflessness is a requisite for becoming a good encourager: “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:25 – New King James Version).

Good encouragers are those who think more of other people than themselves. Self-centeredness neutralizes any would-be encourager.

That verse in Hebrews also tells us that encouragement is necessary. None of us has within us the inclination to continually do our best. We need others to stir us up. That means the people around you and me need us to be a source of encouragement in their lives.

It occurs to me that each of us has a certain vibe; we are a pessimist or a Pollyanna or a personality in between. Lately I’ve been thinking about the vibe of the person who first started giving me the notecards: He’s unrelentingly grateful.

If selflessness is the foundation of encouragement, then gratitude is its brick and mortar.

Have you noticed that no effort or forethought is needed for us to notice the imperfections in the world around us? It’s easy to point out what is wrong with circumstances and other people. Gratitude chooses instead to focus on what is right and praiseworthy, despite the imperfections.

Imagine how our gratitude toward God and other people would blossom if we simply heeded this encouragement from the apostle Paul: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8 – NKJV).

I’m not likely to become a better encourager if my mind is always focused on what’s wrong with the world and the people in it.

I suppose this is a good time to confess a hidden motive in my resolution to be a better encourager. And, again, it relates to the notecards.

You see, I’m not the only recipient of such cards. Others are being strengthened by them, too. And some of those recipients recently have begun giving them to others. They are proving the power of this proverb: “It is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time” (Proverbs 15:23 – New Living Testament).

A small group of encouragers has been born out of one person’s deliberate, determined, selfless consideration of others.

Encouragement, it seems, is contagious.

It’s no wonder God compels us to “stir up” love and good works in others. It’s not just that each of us needs such a lift. An entire church, family or workplace rises to new heights when its members are being built up, rather than disregarded, or torn down.

Although I’m not usually big on New Year’s resolutions, I’m enthused about this one.

I’d really like to be a better encourager.

Care to join me?

Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.

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