Inspire With Encouragement
Encouragement is a gift that inspires and motivates success. The word "encourage" means “to give courage, confidence, or hope,” and it has been called the most important ingredient in building positive personal and professional relationships. And everyone, no matter how young or old, needs the strength-building, personal empowerment that comes from knowing someone else can see their efforts in trying to improve, even when the final goal has not yet been achieved.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
I'm writing this article hoping it will be one that will encourage and inspire anyone who is trying their best to overcome a particularly tough challenge in life. I hope my words and words from Holy Scripture, along with the beautiful photos I've chosen to publish here, will inspire people to keep the faith that it takes to maintain the fight; to sustain the courage, and to overcome the challenge, no matter what it is or how “impossible” things might seem.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
I want this article to inspire readers to want to inspire and encourage others. Even if all you can find time for is a word or two of positive reinforcement, always find a way to offer a little encouragement. Remind friends, family, co-workers, and others to keep believing in themselves, to keep refining their skills and talents, and to know that no matter what type of challenge they might be facing in their lives, things will get better. Encouragement is free, yet I bet you’d be surprised to find out how many people who are in need of it aren’t getting it. Encouragement strengthens us, as the scripture below tells us, so that we do not lose heart.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
How many people have you inspired to have courage today? Last week? Last month? I bet you'd be surprised to find out how far just one word of encouragement can take someone. I know, because I’ve observed in my many years as a college professor, that it can actually motivate someone who is failing in your class, inspiring them to work much harder, and to ultimately make better grades. I know, because in the three years I served as personal caregiver to my mother, when she was dying from cancer, it helped her to feel stronger, nudging within her, in the blink of an eye, the desire to smile often, and to enjoy all the good moments. I know, because I’ve seen it on the faces of people who were helped by nonprofit organizations where I’ve worked. I’ve seen the transformation of those who’ve been helped, who went from being surrounded by despair, to feeling like "just maybe" they could make the changes they needed to make in their lives to become self-sufficient, finally becoming able to help not just themselves and their own families, but to encourage others they met who were like they once were, in need of help and encouragement.
With just a little encouragement, I’ve seen people overcome obstacles, forgive someone who wronged them, and begin working toward becoming a better, more forgiving, and more encouraging, human being.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I hope this article will be a reminder to people who may be feeling down about something, to begin to replace negative thoughts and feelings with positive ones. No matter how much you accomplish, and no matter what you are capable of achieving, when you’re facing hard times and struggles, you can find yourself on a steady diet of negative thoughts and negative self-talk, and before long, you can start to view yourself as unworthy.
So, I hope this article will inspire people to encourage themselves too, when it's needed. Because when all else is said and done, you are the only person who can receive encouragement in the spirit in which it is given. Every day, I want those who need encouragement and inspiration to spend some amount of time thinking about and being grateful for the things they do best. Everyone is good at something, and everyone has gifts and good, positive qualities. Think about the things you truly love about you, those things you know you are really good at, and those things you can do right now that give you a strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Think on those things, and when possible, do those things, and I believe you will soon become encouraged to value more highly the person you are right now.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
I hope this article will inspire and encourage anyone who needs to become more aware of what they might be saying to him or herself, through self-talk. I was once guilty of allowing my inner thoughts to wreck or to postpone any chance I might have had for success as a publisher. At one time, I was so deep into my despair, I didn't realize that what I was saying to me about me was serving effectively as a blockade, keeping me from doing all I could to achieve my goals. But now, after having a great deal of time to think about my life, I’ve realized that to get more out of my life, it's up to me to find a way to turn no way, into a way.
I hope something here will serve as a reminder that the first and most important obstacle to overcome, sometimes, is the need to become more aware of what you are saying to yourself, about you. With this in mind, here's a funny little story someone sent me a long time ago. It's about coming to grips with the need to change what you're thinking and saying from negative to positive.
Someone gave Bob a parrot as a gift. Before long, he discovered that the parrot was a foul-mouthed bird with a bad attitude. Every time the bird opened its mouth, the words that came out were rude, belligerent, and loaded with profanity. Bob tried his best to change the bird's attitude. He took the time to teach it new words, saying only kind and polite things to it. He played beautiful, uplifting music. He did anything and everything he could think of to try and lift the bird’s spirits and to "clean up" its vocabulary.
Finally, Bob got fed up. He yelled at the parrot, and the crotchety parrot yelled back. Bob had had it. He reached into the bird’s cage, grabbed it, shook it, and told the bird he was going to have to change or else. But the parrot just got angrier and ruder than ever. Finally, in desperation, Bob threw up his hands, grabbed the bird and threw him into the freezer. The parrot squawked and kicked and screamed for a while, and then suddenly, there was silence. Not a peep came from the parrot for more than a minute. Bob panicked thinking he'd hurt the parrot, and he quickly opened the freezer door. To his surprise, the parrot was standing there, very cool and calm.
The bird stepped out of the freezer and onto Bob's outstretched arm. And then, the parrot shocked his owner. He said, "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and attitude. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my offensive and unforgivable behavior."
Bob was stunned at the change in his bird's attitude. He was about to ask the parrot what had caused his dramatic change in behavior, but the bird spoke first. He said, "Pardon me, Bob, but may I ask what the turkey did?"
If you knew the harm that could result from what saying negative things to yourself or to others, would you change what you might say? When you find yourself being discouraging, to yourself or to someone else, that's when you need to remember to first give your troubles and your anxiety to God.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
God does not promise us struggle-free, trouble-free lives. But he does promise to be there to carry us through the struggles and the hard times. He even sent his Son, his only One, to walk with us, to encourage and inspire us, to show us how to live and love one another, and how to be delivered from attacks by the enemy—even when the enemy is you. Because it is His desire for us to have perfect peace in our lives, God’s greatest encouragement for us was to send Jesus to us. And Jesus' life was lived and surrendered in order to teach us how to overcome challenges, and to enjoy victory over our trials and struggles. So, as you work to achieve your goals, be encouraged and be generous in giving others the gift of encouragement. It can be uplifting to hear that either you can do what it is you want to do, or that you sure will learn a lot, from trying. Be encouraging.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also want to read this one, by the same author:
Be Encouraged by Kirk Franklin's song and video, "I Smile."
© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD