This world is full of frustration, disappointment, anger, sadness, and a long list of other words that just get us down. You know that just by looking at everything taking place. And if you let it, it’s easy to just get beaten down by everything negative. Sometimes it just seems so impossible to find anything positive going on around us, and it just drags us down even more. It’s so important to look for the positive things taking place, even if it means that we have to look even harder. Finding something that we can turn to when we are discouraged is vital.
I bought something for my office this week. It is a simple bulletin board, and I have hung it directly over my desk, where my computer sits, that way I see it just about all day long. There were a few different reasons that I got the board, and hung it where I did, but the most important reason is what I already have hanging on it. Over my years in ministry, especially working with teenagers, I have been given encouraging note cards from time to time. Some people would not hold on to things like that, especially since one of them just says “You are amazing”. No name or any other identifying mark on it. But if I have received a card from you in the past, I have tried to keep it. In fact, it has more than likely been laminated so it does not get destroyed accidentally, and it is now hanging on the bulletin board over my desk. I will see them everyday, and that it very much strategic on my part.
It is easy to forget why you are doing what you are doing, and it is no different in ministry. There are days that everything else going on, and even “failures” on your end, get you so discouraged. That is what those notecards are for for me. They remind me of why I do what I do. I have a chance to make a difference in someone’s life, and these cards remind me that I have done so, even in some small way, in the past. They are notes of encouragement that I can look to when I need to be reminded that no matter how hard life gets, there is hope.
We all need encouragement in our lives. Did you know that being an encourager of others is actually listed by Paul as one of the gifts that Christians can be given? In Romans 12:6-8, Paul writes, “6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (bold added for emphasis is mine). Find someone that can encourage you. Other than the notecards that I wrote about above, I have a select number of people that I turn to when I need encouragement. We all need that. I try to be an encourager as well, but it comes naturally to some people.
In fact, Paul was joined on some of his missionary journeys by an encourager. Is that something you knew? I know many do not realize this, but a man named Barnabas accompanied Paul for a time. Barnabas’ name means “son of encouragement”. His name literally means that he is an encourager. If Paul, a man that wrote a majority of the New Testament, and saw God’s works up close and personal needed a friend that was an encourager, then I think it is safe to say that we all do. Find someone that can be an encouragement to you today. Do not continue to just see all the negative things in this world. Find encouragement, and try to encourage someone else that needs it as well!