A word of encouragement is a beautiful thing, especially when it is unexpected. I was walking through our high school on Monday and a staff member came out of her office to tell me that she appreciated the “Word of Encouragement” that our Ministry Staff has been writing and sending out in the form of mass emails since the beginning of the pandemic. She said those writings had been very meaningful to her, and I appreciated her making a point of letting me know. (Those “Words of Encouragement” are still being published and, if you are not receiving them, you can sign up to be on our email list at the bottom of this page.)
One of the best examples of encouragement I have ever seen was in the first half marathon I ever ran. The company that owned the race had a professional runner that represented them at each race. He was a tall, lean, African – and he could run like a gazelle. He ran the race, finished a half hour ahead of anyone else, and all along the course he was talking with spectators, laughing, making friends and having a great time. When he crossed the finish line after completing the 13.1 miles he did not even get a Gatorade. Instead, he turned back around and started running the course in reverse. To those of us still struggling to cross the finish line, he said, “You are almost there. You are looking great. Just a little further. You are about to have a half marathon under your belt.” I could not help but notice that his action was a difference maker for a lot of runners less talented than him. Lots of people ran stronger, faster, and finished the race well because of those words of encouragement.
I saw a Peanuts cartoon where a little red-haired girl calls Charlie Brown on the phone and says, “Hey Chuck, guess what? I am running for Queen of the month of May at our school.” Charlie Brown says to her, “That is interesting. Lucy has already been chosen Queen of May at our school. She is standing here right now wearing her crown.” Instead of congratulating Lucy, the little red-haired girl tears Lucy down to build herself up and says, “That school has pretty low standards, Chuck!” As the cartoon plays out, Lucy asks Charlie Brown, “What did she say, Charlie Brown?” Charlie Brown looks at Lucy with a sense of compassion and says, “Lucy, she says congratulations.” It is easy to do the opposite, but it is always beautiful to offer encouragement.
Everyone needs encouragement. Here is a mission for you: Take advantage of every opportunity you are given to encourage others today. It will build them up – and you will be much happier as well. Encouragement is a beautiful thing.