Youth ministry can, at times, be physically, emotionally and spiritually draining. Weird hours, low pay, constant pressure to keep up with a changing student world can leave one asking, “Why do I do this?” Obviously being called by God is “why I do this” but there are also those times when a student takes an incredible step of faith or maybe they just say thank you that remind me “why I do this”. Lately, my students have made a habit of slipping into my office and leaving little notes all around my office.
It has been such a cool blessing to me to see my students go out of their way to love on me just a little. Even small notes like this go a long way in spurring me on and encouraging me. As Christians, we should be marked by our love for one another and we should seek to encourage and build one another up regularly. So here are a few steps to take so that you can be an encourager to those around you.
(1) Give encouragement…but make sure you receive it too.
It’s really hard to give out something that you do not actually have. This is true with being an encourager. Surround yourselves with people who are honest with you – meaning that they won’t kiss your butt, but they see the work of God in your life and can affirm that. You can learn a lot from the people God has placed in your life.
“A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” ~ Luke 6:45
(2) Slow down & be perceptive.
Often times, if we take a second, take our focus off ourselves and start to look around we will notice people in times of need. The people closest to us can suffer in silence unless we can see their hurt and offer an encouraging word to them or just ask, “Is everything OK?” Being an encourager can sometimes simply means stepping away from our schedule and making ourselves available to the people we love.
(3) Mean it when you say it
Don’t be someone who fires off praise every time you take a breath. Those people can comes across a little fake. When you have the opportunity to encourage someone it should come from the heart. Be sincere. We all have remarkable works of God in our lives. Find those characteristics in others and help to point them out.
(4) Use Scripture.
There are so many times in my own life when I have absolutely no idea what to say to someone in order to encourage someone. God’s Word has a way to cut the very core of who we are. It molds & shapes us. It teaches us, corrects us & builds us up. God’s very words are always more effective than ours.
For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat,so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty,but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.”
~ Isaiah 55:10-11
(5) Pray with them…right then.
There is true power in prayer. So when you have a friend that’s in need of prayer, don’t give them the token, “I’ll be praying for you man.” Pray for them in person…out loud…right there. It might seem awkward. You might find yourself at a loss for words. That is totally OK because taking the time to pray with a brother in Christ will mean the world to them.
(6) Use social media.
Seems like everybody has a Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Instgram… We’re all connected via social media. So in the midst of cat videos, E-Cards & retweets do something meaningful. Post encouraging statuses/tweets of about what God is teaching you in your own life. Post encouraging words on as friends wall. Use social media as a tool for building up the body of Christ.
(7) Go old school. Write a note.
There is something about encouragement that you can see, touch and hold. It just seems more personal. A hand written note lasts longer than the moment a spoken word is uttered. Notes can be saved & treasured. So be intentional. Find a way to hide an encouraging Post-It in someone’s stuff. Slip a hand written note in somebody’s car or under their door or in their locker. Take time to show somebody you cared enough to sit down and put your thoughts to paper.