Posts Tagged ‘Encouragement’
There’s a water main line break in our little corner of Northwest Oklahoma City. Some neighborhoods have no water pressure, some have absolutely no water at all. Cody and I are sort of in the middle of no water and a little water. Let’s just say that sometimes the toilet will flush.
It just got me thinking how often we take simple things for granted. Especially in our American culture we expect certain things, like running water, but we forget that in other parts of the world, this is not the norm for them. It really makes me thankful to realize where God placed me on this earth.
Gratitude is the last Forgotten Virtue Craig Groeschel will be speaking about this weekend. And I think it is quite appropriate for Memorial Day Weekend, where we realize we often take our freedom for granted as well.
So today, I’m thankful. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude as it always should be. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, running water (for the most part), freedom, a husband who loves me and a family who supports me. I have a Heavenly Father who puts up with my crap and always gives me grace. What more could I ask for, what more could I want?
Let today be a reminder to not take our lives for granted. Let us be thankful for everything, including toilets that flush.
This story is always a good reminder to not let myself become stagnant.
The low rumble of the coffee shop slowly brought my mind to focus. I’d been reading at my table at Barnes and Noble for a while and picked up my cup of cafe mocha. I noticed, as I took a drink, that most of the good stuff had settled at the bottom of my cup. So I gently swirled it hoping the motion would wake the dormant spices that make the drink taste so good.
I drank again and noticed an immense difference. A sweeter, richer, more potent sip excited my taste buds, causing my mind to think…
How often do I let my “spice” settle at the bottom? Sometimes I allow the busyness of life to settle my passion, making me less effective. I need a little swirl. A little something to shake me up when sitting too long has caused me to become complacent.
But will I recognize this swirl for what it is? Or will I complain that it’s just another suffering I have to walk through, trying not to get too shaken up, when that was the point in the first place…
What do you think?
Ladies, we have a problem. I’ve never really noticed it before, but lately it has become increasingly evident that this problem is indeed something that needs to change. This problem mostly arrises when women get around other women. You probably think you’ve guessed what the problem is: tearing each other down. You wouldn’t be too far from the truth, but the problem I notice more is not that we tear each other down (not to each other’s faces at least) but that we tear ourselves down.
I was at a women’s luncheon the other day where about 35 women sat at round tables to get to know each other. I had my listening ears on and what I picked up only confirms my estimation of this growing problem.
You know how it goes. You’re talking about exercising and one women makes a joke: “Oh, these thunder thighs haven’t seen the broad side of a gym in months!” Or you give a lady a complement on her blouse and she comes back with: “Oh, it’s so old, I don’t even know why I wear it anymore.” “It’s a wonder my family hasn’t admitted me to the insane asylum.” “You don’t want to hear me sing!” “Oh, I’m horrible at that!” I’m sure you could add a few of your own. Maybe you’ve already said something negative about yourself today.
You might think these small conundrums are nothing to consider, “that’s just how women are,” you might say. But what puzzles me is how we got to this place. Why is it that any majority of our interaction with one another can turn into a Laceration-Fest, as if we’re trying to one up each other with our own cut downs. Does it make us feel good to say negative things about ourselves? Do we hope the other person will come back with a complement, defusing the negativity we just bathed ourselves in?
What’s more frightening is that usually what comes out of our mouth has already planted it’s seed in our minds. Do we really feel this way about ourselves? Are we constantly entertaining negative self-talk as we go about our day?
I want to challenge us, ladies. Put on your observation glasses and take a look at your interactions today. Do you speak negatively about yourself? Even if it’s just in jest? What about your inner self-talk? Is it positive? Does it make you feel good about who you are and who God has created you to be?
It’s time we fight back to “just the way women are” and make a new name for ourselves. It’s time we put down the negative knife words and become women of encouragement, women of life-giving words not only to those around us, but often more importantly to the woman in the mirror.
Sometimes it’s necessary to encourage yourself. I need to encourage myself today, and perhaps you needed it to.
“I don’t feel beautiful today…” I am enthralled with your beauty… Honor Me with it! (Prov. 11:45)
“Can I really face another week?” I will be with you, every step of the way. (Joshua 3:7)
“I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle.” I will fight for you. (Deut. 1:30)
“I feel distant from God.” Draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
“I am a mess.” I will take you by the hand… (Isaiah 42:6)
“I’m a failure.” You are more than a conqueror in My Name. (Romans 8:37)
“I don’t know where I am going.” Live by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7)
“I don’t know how this is going to work.” I will make all things work. (Romans 8:28)
Sometimes it’s important to be reminded of truth. Don’t let today go by without reminding yourself that God is in control. Hope you are encouraged today.
No one wants to admit they are a people-pleaser. The hyphenated word brings such negative connotations, like having no backbone, not thinking for yourself, or being a doormat, allowing everyone to walk over you. But I’m a pretty opinionated person, I think for myself quite well, and don’t bend over and let others walk on me–but I realized I was still trying to please people.
I realized I was living in this state of mind after reading this familiar verse: Gal. 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
I had read this verse a hundred times. It’s even underlined in my Bible. Every time I would read it, I would think, “Oh, yeah, those people who try to please others… they have no idea!” and then one day I realized… I’m “those people.”
I think the reason I tend to be a people-pleaser is because my personality type is one that says “people are the priority.” I’m passionate about meeting people, connecting people, watching people figure out who they are, that sometimes I try to control situations where people are present. (which is often in my line of work.) Whether it be a life group I lead, the adult leaders at SWITCH, someone I’m mentoring/counseling–I want so badly for people to be pleased with whatever situation they are in, that inevitably, I become a people-pleaser. The pressure of pleasing people was like spinning hundreds of plates and not letting one of them fall. Why did I feel like I was responsible?
But recently, I realized a simple truth: Making sure people are pleased is not my job!
I’m not in control of their reactions. I can’t sway them one way or the other. If someone doesn’t like the way things are going it’s not my fault–nor should I take it personally, thinking “if I had just done more I could have made them like things”… (All of this makes sense to me in my brain… sorry if you don’t understand, but getting it out is good therapy.)
Realizing this truth has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I would say I probably enjoy my job more because I’ve learned how to just be myself and not worry about trying to control others. I would say I’m becoming more of who I really am, unhindered by the the pressure of trying to please everyone. I’ve been freed, and life on the other side of people-pleasing is pleasantly care-free.
Thanks for letting me talk that out. I feel better now. What about you? Do you find yourself trying to please people? Share your thoughts.
Now the truth has been revealed. Encouragement is a woman’s #1 weapon. This weapon is so powerful and brings such effect on those we use it on.
I don’t want to leave this conversation without first reminding ourselves that encouragement is not just giving out complements. It’s not just making someone feel good about themselves. To think of encouragement in those terms would demean this powerful gift. When you encourage, you may have to challenge, speak firmly, point out faults, or push someone in a direction that may be uncomfortable.
When we encourage, we are not focusing on ourselves, but other people. This causes others to want to be around us, because they know any time spent with you will be encouraging, uplifting, challenging and joyful. When you become a woman of encouragement, you become a woman of charisma, possessing the power to influence anyone you might encounter.
For some of us this ability to encourage comes naturally, for others we may have to work at it. Wherever you find yourself in your journey to becoming a woman of encouragement, allow me to cause courage in you. There is nothing more powerful than the encouraging words of a woman. Remember, you have the ability, the duty, to cause courage in those around you. You have been given this awesome calling as a women. Let’s not let it go to waste.
Who do you need to encourage today? It may be you, your husband, your children a friend or family member… do not let today go by without speaking a word of encouragement.
Okay, let’s admit it. Maybe we don’t have “enemies” like what you think of when you hear the word (I don’t know maybe some of you do!) but we definately have people we:
- don’t get along with
- don’t understand
- don’t like
- People who intimidate us
- People who drive us crazy
I’ve learned that when I run into people like this the best way to deal with them is through the lense of encouragement. Instead of acting on what our flesh would like to do (strangle them, scream at them, trip them and act like nothing happened) we need to realize they are human beings just like us, created in the image of God. They deserve our love and respect just like anyone else.
Here’s an example: Think of someone you would love to meet. Perhaps its a celebrity. The President of the United States. Perhaps it’s Jesus himself, in the flesh! What would you do if they walked into your work, or home and asked for something to drink? Would you snicker at them? Talk about them behind their back? Trip them and act like nothing happened? NO! Hopefully, you would bend over backwards to serve this high profile individual. If that’s the way you would treat one group of people it’s also the way you should treat the people you do not like. God Himself tells us to “show no favoritism.” (James 2)
The weapon of encouragement can and should be used for this group of people as well. Yes, it might be a little more difficult, but the results of weilding the weapon of encouragment bring harmony to those hard to deal with relationships.
What do you do when dealing with “enemies”?
There is a quote I love. One that I try to live my life by. One that fits perfectly into our discussion on encouragement as a weapon. It goes like this…
People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be, not what you nag them to be.
As we continue to talk about using encouragement as a weapon we cannot overlook the importance of using this weapon for our husbands, children and families.
I would bet my life fighting for the truth that encouragement has tremendous power when we use it in our relationship with our husbands. Men naturally have a need for words of affirmation, especially from their wife. The reason this need exists has to do with the question they are always asking themselves “Do I have what it takes?” (Thank you Wild at Heart.) While our men should not find their self-worth in us, their wives, it doesn’t hurt to let our men know that we think the world of them.
But what if you don’t think the world of your man? What if he struggles to be the man God has called him to be? What if you are struggling in your marriage because you’re both not meeting the expectations of the other? Encourage anyway.
You want to see your man grow spiritually? Encourage him every time he does something remotely spiritual (goes to church, prays, talks about God, etc.) Instead of, “I wish we prayed more together!” say, “You are a great prayer warrior. Thank you for praying for us.” Want to see him grow in confidence? Encourage him every time he does something around the house. “Honey, you’re amazing! Is there anything you can’t do?” Want to see him grow relationally? You get the picture. People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be, not what you nag them to be. Change the way you talk to your husband and watch him change before your eyes.
Now, I’m not a mother, so those who are will have to share their thoughts here. However, I am a daughter to a great mother and have watched how encouragement has changed my life as she used it in our relationship. Words of affirmation are a HUGE part of a child’s love language, especially as they grow up in the home. This is where they find the confidence to face life as an adult. If you as their parent, aren’t encouraging your child, who do you think is? You want to see a child shut down? Don’t encourage them. Don’t praise them. Don’t challenge them to be better by telling them you know they can do it. You want to see a child thrive? Encourage them. Praise their work. Tell them you believe they can do anything and watch as they prove you right.
Maybe you don’t have a husband, or children, but God has put you in a family to prepare you to one day be a wife and mother. Use these truths with those in your family and watch as your influence with them grows. There is nothing more powerful than the encouraging words of a woman. Use the weapon well.
As we talk about the word “weapon” we must also talk about what it is we are combating. To use a weapon against something connotes that there is also an enemy. We all know that ultimately we fight against our spiritual enemy whose one goal is to take us out. But to say that a woman’s #1 weapon is encouragement, it signifies that there are certain enemies we fight against that may be more powerful than others.
Looking at the root word encouragement we find “courage.” So let’s think of some of the enemies that encouragement fights against:
- Low self-worth
Are there some others that you would like to add to the list?
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to using this weapon of encouragement, is that it must be used first and foremost for ourselves. You might think it is wrong to encourage yourself. Maybe you feel guilty for even needing encouragement. But here’s the truth, sister: We need and should take all the encouragement we can get. Especially if the only place we’re getting it is from our own brains.
Here are four thoughts on how you can encourage yourself:
- Read a Psalm a day. (Kind David, the man who wrote most of the Psalms was always encouraging himself in the Lord. He would often use words of praise to remind himself how great God was to him. He also often reminded the Lord that he was “blameless” and “righteous” which of course is the same way God sees us since we have been covered with the blood of Jesus.
- Change your Inner Dialogue. (No more negativity, girls! You can’t afford to think or talk badly about yourself. This type of behavior has got to stop! It is a huge sign of insecurity and no one likes to be around a negative person. If you discover that you often think less of yourself I want you to stop and ask: what would God say about me in this moment.)
- Ask a trusted friend or mentor to speak truth over you. (It’s okay to ask for some encouragement every now and again. Let’s face it, we are our own worst critics, but the encouragement of someone we know and love can go a long way in helping us see the truth of who we are.
- Encourage others. (Proverbs 11:25 says, “He who refreshes others, will himself be refreshed.” If you start to feel like you could use some encouragement chances are you’re not the only one. Find someone at work, at the gym, at church or wherever you are and encourage them. This means more than just giving a complement, it may mean spending some time talking and sharing with someone. Encourage others and you will also be encouraged.
Share your thoughts on other ways we can encourage ourselves.
As I was thinking of the title of this post, I asked my husband what he thought a woman’s #1 most powerful weapon was…
I looked at him with a shameful expression. “Come, on… really.”
I made him keep guessing and his ideas ranged from tears to gossip. I told him “You’re thinking about this all wrong. You’re thinking of a weapon as a negative thing.” (Which of course makes sense because he’s a Marine!)
And perhaps you did too when you read the title. But when I talk about a woman’s #1 most powerful weapon, I’m talking about a positive weapon, a weapon we use not only for others, but ourselves as well.
A Woman’s #1 Most Powerful Weapon is: ENCOURAGEMENT
I believe it is one of the purposes for which we were created. There is so much power in the action word, encourage. To miss the truth that it is our #1 most powerful weapon is a tragedy too many women find themselves facing. So this week we are going to be discussing the effects of this positive weapon of encouragement in these four areas:
- Our Loved Ones
- Our Enemies and
I hope you might join into the discussion by leaving a comment or Tweeting about this post so all can share. You can also grab the RSS feed down on the right hand column and have daily posts sent right to your e-mail.
Questions for discussion:
Do you agree that ENCOURAGEMENT is a woman’s #1 most powerful weapon? Why or why not?
How have you seen encouragement work positive outcomes in your life?