“People need encouragement – and a lot of it!” I once heard a preacher say this in a sermon and I believe it: we do need encouragement – and a lot of it. In the Bible, we read about a man named Joseph who was also called Barnabas by the apostles. The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement” – what a special man Barnabas was. He was such an encouragement to others that they nicknamed him “Mr. Encouragement!” I know of another great man who was an encourager – his name was Apollos. In 1 Corinthians 3, the apostle Paul argues against favoritism, pride, and jealousy. The Christians in that place were taking pride in the ones who baptized them. Paul explained to them that although he planted, and Apollos watered, it was God who gave the increase. Our Lord is the One who should get all the glory! But did you notice what was said about Apollos? He was watering. He was providing the necessary T.L.C. so that these souls could flourish. He was encouraging growth. In this case, the watering appears to be toward those who were being taught the Gospel initially. In this article I’d like for us to focus on encouraging those already in the Lord’s church. This is a very fulfilling ministry for all involved, and I hope to encourage you to become great encouragers!
I’ve made an acrostic using the word W.A.T.E.R. to share with you simple, practical ways that we can encourage the church.
W is for WORDS
Whether face-to-face, in notes, by phone, or even on Facebook… let our words always be sweet. Don’t you just love an encouraging word? We may not remember all the kind words that have been said to us, but we do remember the feelings we had.
Here are 12 suggestions of encouraging ways we can use our words:
- Say “thank you” for even the smallest things.
- Send notes, just out of the blue.
- Ask how people are doing (and then listen to their answer!)
- Praise children for every little thing.
- Call and chat with someone who lives alone.
- Stay after services to get to know your church family.
- Tell others that you’ll pray for them (and then don’t forget!).
- Say “I’m sorry” when you should.
- Ask a brother how his job is going.
- Ask a sister how she raised such fine children.
- Tell about your conversion to Christ.
- Sing praises – a lot.
Ladies, let us encourage with our words!
A is for ACTION!
How we behave makes a huge impact on others. You know the saying, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day”? Let them see one! Christians need to see other Christians in action.
May I suggest 12 encouraging actions that we can take:
- Be kind those who serve us – the waitress; the teenager who bags our groceries; the janitor who cleans our school
- Rejoice with those who rejoice.
- Weep with those who weep.
- Handle criticism graciously, even smiling.
- Attend all the services at church.
- Host a devotional in your home.
- Pray anytime, anywhere.
- Be a hugger!
- Have the young people over for games and pizza.
- Offer to babysit so young parents can have date nights.
- Teach the young ladies how to make communion bread.
Ladies, let us encourage with our actions!
An encourager will be patient – for we all have struggles. An encourager will be forgiving – for we all need grace. An encourager will appreciate every person in her congregation – for we all want to be included. Aren’t you glad that we are such a diverse group of ladies? What if everyone had the same talents, the same weaknesses, and the same personalities? We can be tolerant with each others’ quirks, can’t we? We’ve all got them, and I’m so thankful to those who have tolerated mine!
Here are 12 ways that I think we can be encouraging and tolerant of everyone else’s personalities and opinions:
- Discern between doctrine and opinion. The old adage is true: “Everyone has a right to their own opinion.” When someone’s opinion differs from ours, do we tolerate their opinion, or do we round up a posse to bully them into changing it?
- Appreciate everyone – the popular and the overlooked. The cliques have got to go! We were all bought with the same blood!
- Include everyone in the planning and carrying out of God’s work. It may not always get done the way you would do it, but what is more important: being right or working together?
- Have sister “I-really-can’t-cook” make some cookies for VBS – she may just surprise you!
- Forgive each other! When asked for forgiveness, the patient person will be quick to forgive and forget. She won’t put the offender on some sort of “spiritual probation” until they have proven their sincerity. Forgiveness is a sweet gift that we can and should be willing to give over and over and over again.
- Give everyone’s ideas some thought. People whose ideas are consistently “shot down” or not even acknowledged will eventually stop trying.
- Answer sweetly when you’re asked easy Bible questions from those who you think should know the answer by now – we all have so much to learn.
- Proudly introduce your new converts to others. They may still look like the world and talk like the world, but they are growing. Never be ashamed of these new babes in Christ – for we were all there at one time.
- Be patient with your Bible class teachers and with your preachers. We all have “off” days – there’s no need to comment about everything you didn’t like about the class or the lesson.
- How about the sister who keeps coming forward to confess she’s still struggling with that same sin? We all have areas in our lives that we struggle with time and time again. And aren’t we thankful that we are forgiven again, and again, and again?
- Appreciate the one-talent-Christian. As long as we’re doing the best we can, we are pleasing to the Father – and that’s what is important.
- Always practice the Golden Rule. We expect others to be patient with us, forgiving toward us, and proud of us. Don’t we?
Ladies, let us encourage with our tolerance!
E is for EXCITEMENT!
Showing others that you are on fire for the Lord is very encouraging, but I think especially with young people. These sweet, young souls are looking to us to see if living for Jesus is really worth it. We need to show them how blessed we are to be Christians.
What can you do to show the church you’re excited to be a Christian? Here are 12 suggestions.
- Be the one who says, “Praise God!” when you hear of some good news.
- Be passionate about your congregation. Do you say, “This is my family” (with a ho-hum attitude) or “This is my family!” (with passion)? There’s a difference.
- Come to church on time, perhaps even with a spring in your step!
- Sing out!
- Look at the speaker during classes and sermons – this will greatly encourage the speaker.
- Cherish God’s Word – talk about the latest treasure you’ve found!
- Yearn for Heaven, and talk about it – won’t it be wonderful there?!?
- Give freely – if there is a need you can fulfill, do it – be known for your generosity.
- Get involved in the Lord’s work – come with a smile on your face and your sleeves rolled up, ready to work!
- Befriend new converts – welcome them, take them under your wing, don’t delay.
- Be prepared for your Bible classes – do your assignments and readings.
- Be joyful in the Lord! A sunny disposition is contagious (and so is a gloomy one) – let’s spread the joy!
Ladies, let us encourage with our excitement!
R is for RECOGNITION!
This is one of my favorite parts of the “watering” ministry – and it’s especially fun encouraging children this way. Everyone likes recognition! Congregations sometimes have events like “Teacher Appreciation Dinners” and “Senior Saints Luncheons” and “Kids’ Days” – great ways to show appreciation for their church family! This part of the watering ministry takes a watchful eye, a servant’s heart, and a good memory (or a calendar).
Here are 12 ways to show others that you’re thinking of them, and that they are appreciated:
- Always try to remember Birthdays and Anniversaries, and if you can afford it, send cards with a sweet note inside.
- Acknowledge the brother who got promoted at work – that’s a big deal.
- Keep up with the kids in your congregation: What grades are they in? Is there a big test in her future? How did he do in that Spelling Bee? Did she make that skirt all by herself? Is he learning to drive? Our young people really need to know that they are noticed and important!
- Remember someone’s Christian Birthday – just jot it down on your calendar – believe me, you’ll really brighten their day when you acknowledge their Christian birthday!
- Remember the sad anniversaries too – a note means so much.
- Going back to the kids: “catch” them doing something wonderful and acknowledge it. “Did I see you clearing the tables after the potluck? What a helper you are!” “I saw you holding the door for our visitors – thank you!” “You really encourage me when I see you taking notes during the sermon!”
- Has someone been on vacation? Call them when they come home to ask how their vacation was. It’s nice to be remembered.
- Is there someone in your congregation who buys supplies, or makes fliers, or prepares the communion? Don’t forget to thank them – their work is very important!
- Leave an anonymous gift for your preacher’s family, thanking them for their sacrifice and service.
- Do you subscribe to periodicals? Take the time to thank the writers – they are putting their work out there for all to see. That takes courage and conviction. A little encouragement goes a long way.
- Has someone you know stepped out of their comfort zone lately? Be sure to recognize that and encourage her.
- Finally, don’t forget to recognize the faithful, the strong, and the encouragers in your life. Even the best encouragers need encouragement!
Ladies, let us encourage with our recognition! We can all be great encouragers if we will take the time to listen to each other and to remember each other. Now, let’s get watering! Why? Because people need encouragement – and a lot of it!
By Jennifer Jensen
Jennifer Jensen lives in sunny California. She is married to a Gospel preacher and homeschools her two teenaged daughters.