Posts Tagged encourage

Where’s Barnabas? : Doyle Sager: Baptists News


It is impossible to measure the positive impact we can have when we develop the habit of encouragement.

By Doyle Sager

One of my favorite scenes from the movie Christmas Vacation has Clark Griswold standing in his front yard with wife, children, parents and in-laws. They are shivering in the December cold, admiring the gaudy but brilliant Christmas lights which Clark has just strung all over the house. But this light display has come at great cost. He has had many disappointments with dead bulbs and tangled wires. He has fallen off his ladder and worked late into the night while others were nestled in their beds. But finally, the lights are on! And yet, at this moment of pride and accomplishment, the only words which come from his father-in-law? “The little lights aren’t twinkling, Clark.” Ugh! What a kick in the gut!

Perhaps you feel like Clark Griswold. You work hard on a project and all you get is criticism. You labor lovingly to prepare a meal and your thanks is, “The roast seems a little tough.” You preach or teach your heart out and the only feedback you receive is, “You don’t mention the Holy Spirit often enough.”

Have you noticed how criticism and a negative spirit can virtually suck the energy out of a meeting, a conversation or a relationship? Have you taken the time to tally social media to see whether there are more encouraging or discouraging posts? (Don’t do it; I don’t want you to be discouraged!)

For those who follow the Christian calendar, June 11 is St. Barnabas’ Day. Acts 4:36 introduces us to this man, whose given name is Joseph. But the early church gave him the name Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” This begs the question: If I allowed my church to bestow a descriptive moniker on me, what would it be? Mr. Grouchy? Rev. Always Right? Dr. Sad Sack? Mr. Negative?

Barnabas lived up to his name. In Acts 9, when Saul of Tarsus, a new convert to the Jesus Way, was having difficulty getting anyone to believe him or give him the time of day, it was Barnabas who intervened and used his considerable influence to welcome Saul. Barnabas saw the Saul-Paul glass as half-full, not half-empty and said to the church leaders, “Let’s take a chance on this guy. Something tells me he has potential.” How different would Christian history have been if Mr. Encourager had not stepped up.

Here’s the simple truth: It is impossible to measure the positive impact we can have when we develop the habit of encouragement. Many years ago, I attended a pastors conference and had braced myself for the usual fare — lots of bragging sermons about how the speakers were doing it right and I was doing it wrong (whatever “it” was). I was prepared to feel both guilty and inadequate.

Instead, a very successful pastor preached a sermon of encouragement. The message was in the indicative, not the imperative (I was loved and valued vs. I ought to be doing this or that). I went away lifted and refreshed, framing my many weaknesses in the larger truths of God’s provision and power. That sermon was delivered 25 years ago, and it is still nourishing my spirit.

If we’re all so starved for encouragement, why is it in such short supply? Where’s Barnabas when we need him? Sad to say, the secular world sometimes has a better grip on encouragement than the church does. In business and industry, a relatively new model for strategy planning has emerged called Appreciative Inquiry. AI begins with what is right in the organization, using strengths to leverage problem areas, thus keeping the visioning process from veering off into quick fixes or discouraging self-deprecation.

In yet another area, the mental health field offers “positive psychology” as an approach, not as a replacement for other emphases, but to augment them. Researchers have discovered that human beings are more drawn to the future than driven by the past. We more naturally grow by building on our virtues, positive experiences and pleasant memories.

May I offer a modest proposal? Let’s begin to cultivate a reputation for encouraging others. Wouldn’t it be great if someone would give me the nickname Encourager? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful word on my gravestone someday? Perhaps we could all begin June 11, on Barnabas’ day. I challenge you to spend that entire day encouraging others — in person, by way of handwritten notes, over the phone or through social media. Don’t let a discouraging word come from your lips all day long!

Here’s hoping Barnabas shows up at your place — and mine — on June 11. And here’s hoping he stays awhile.

Doyle Sager is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Mo.


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A Firm Foundation

This is the second of the devotionals published by First Baptist Church of Charleston for Say Something Nice Sunday. The month of June is Effective Communication Month.
Scripture Focus:
“… I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded He is able
to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”
— 2 Timothy 1:12
I grew up in a small mill village church surrounded by people
who loved me and wanted the very best for me. I participated
in every phase of church life. As a teenager, I sometimes was
the speaker. Over the years since I have visited churches and
cathedrals grand and small both in America and Europe. I have
experienced interpretations of the Bible that in my youth would
have been unthinkable and certainly unacceptable. These
experiences have provided richness to the Text and nuances
to its meaning; however, the basic tenants of the faith were so
soundly taught and lived before me that I am forever grateful to
that small congregation.
Those wonderful people encouraged my every faltering step.
They were quick to praise. They nourished their young people
in ways I have not experienced since. Questions didn’t seem to
bother them. These folks worked hard in the cotton mill every
day, but when Sunday came, they were in church praising God.
They certainly did not have much money, but they had generous
spirits. They loved to sing the old hymns and never grew tired of
their favorites. They did not allow the workplace relationships
with bosses to intrude on Sunday worship. At church every one
was equal. It was such a wonderful experience in my young life
that it has grounded me for all the years that followed.
The instruction and inspiration that I gained here has sustained
me through the shattering times in my life. I can still feel the
collective protective arms of that small church around me. They
taught me what love is and what Jesus loves means.
Prayer Focus:
Dear God, I am thankful to you for the church of my youth and
for those who set my feet on solid ground. Amen.

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Fifty-Two Keys for Living, Loving and Working


Be an encourager. All of us need a word of encouragement. Often a smile or a kind word is all that is required. It is impossible to measure the impact of a word spoken or an act of kindness at the right time. All of us need encouragement. Every person you meet is struggling with something. You may never know what it is nor do you need to know. If the person is breathing, there is some struggle taking place. A kind word costs absolutely nothing, but the rewards keep multiplying. Be sincere.  Be thoughtful. Sometimes just your presence is all that is needed. A note of encouragement works wonders. It can be read and reread. It will be kept. Reach for the telephone and call someone with a word of encouragement – now. You will be glad that you did.

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Fifty-two Keys for Living, Loving and Working

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Others have sacrificed for you. Many have gone out on a limb for you. You are the recipient of the efforts of others.  Appreciation on your part is always an appropriate attitude.  Let others know how grateful you are for what they have done for you. None of us get there on our own. We have all had a helping hand. Think about the last good thing that happened to you. Who was involved? How did you meet him or her? Who introduced you? Why were they there? My wife is a teacher because her third grade teacher saw the potential in her that no one else had seen or encouraged. One person made the difference. One person fanned the flame that resulted in a lifetime of helping countless others reach their potential. Appreciation doesn’t cost a cent, but the dividends keep growing and growing. Adopt an attitude of appreciation. In twenty eight years of teaching imagine how many lives Carol influenced and how many lives her students will influence. Never under estimate the good that one person can do.

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