Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor … Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting. Take a minute and look around you. Look close at the faces of people and see in their eyes the desperate longing for understanding and their cry for a few words of encouragement. If nothing else, just a look, a pat on the back or a smile can make the greatest difference in their day.
We are such self-centered creatures that from the moment we wake up until the moment we lay our head back on the pillow, we are consumed with ourselves. We think about our sorrow, our concern and our need for understanding and affirmation.
But what does the Bible say about this?
Are you one looking for encouragement and appreciation? Then I have a suggestion for you: Encourage someone around you. Give to them what you are looking to receive, and you will be surprised how it will return back to you a hundredfold.
Listen to the words of Christ, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12, NIV).
William Barclay once said,
How true this is.
While reading through the well-known and loved book Chicken Soup for the Soul, I came across this story, which again shows the significant impact a little encouragement can have on the people in our lives.
A college professor had his sociology class go into the Baltimore slums to get case histories of 200 young boys. They were asked to write an evaluation of each boy’s future. In every case the students wrote, “He hasn’t got a chance.” Twenty-five years later another sociology professor came across the earlier study. He had his students follow up on the project to see what had happened to these boys. With the exception of 20 boys who had moved away or died, the students learned that 176 of the remaining 180 had achieved more than ordinary success as lawyers, doctors and businessmen.
The teacher was still alive, so he sought her out and asked the old but still alert lady what magic formula she had used to pull these boys out of the slums into successful achievement.
The teacher’s eyes sparkled and her lips broke into a gentle smile. “It’s really simple,” she said. “I loved those boys.”
If we as parents or friends want to motivate our family members or people around us, we must be encouragers. We must choose to give sincere appreciation and honest praise for even the slightest good that people do. Thus we can spur others to greater achievements in life.
The renowned psychologist and thinker, professor William James of Harvard, mentions that each individual has tremendous energy, power, strength and potential in themselves. According to him, compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses powers of various sorts that he habitually fails to use.
Consider Charles Dickens. His life did not exactly provide him with the conditions to be one of the greatest literary writers, yet that is what he became. Forced to quit school when he was 12 due to his father’s imprisonment (for outrageous debt), Dickens spent his days pasting labels on bottles in a rat-infested workplace.
He desired to write and pursued that dream, only to have his work rejected time and time again. But one day, one of his stories, although denied for publication, was returned to him with a note saying that he was a great writer and the world needed him. These small words of encouragement sent Dickens running up and down the streets of London rejoicing. They also served as the staying power in his writing, therefore bringing us such literature masterpieces as Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, The Tale of Two Cities and others.When you read about the lives of great men and women in history, you will always find there was some person or group who encouraged them, being the key factor to all that they achieved . . .
You see, it is easy to understand. It doesn’t take superstars and the most brilliant to encourage others. You can do it. I can do it. English poet, William Wordsworth, once said,
I want to ask you, when was the last time you encouraged someone with your words or actions? We are most Christlike when we can show compassion and love for others. Jesus always affirmed and strengthened the weak, the lonely and the unwanted.
One of the most significant ways in which we can encourage others is to listen with our hearts to what they are saying. Often people say things not in words, but in their feelings, their actions and even their silence. While listening, ask the Lord to give you understanding to what they are saying. Then you will be able to respond with the determination to encourage and strengthen them.
There are times you can do things to show your support and encouragement. Sometimes it is sharing finances, giving them a book that will help them through a difficult time or sharing a song that will encourage their heart. It could be just simply taking the time to sit down and listen to them.
Daily look for something positive and encouraging that you can do or say to the people around you to strengthen them in this life’s journey. Appreciate people and acknowledge even the little things that they do. Never underestimate the power of positive words and a solid handshake or pat on the back.
When I look back over the years of my serving the Lord, there have been numerous times of deep discouragement and struggles. Many times I have thought about running away from it all. In each of those times, it was some brother or sister saying “I am praying for you” or doing something to encourage me with their words or actions that gave me the courage to continue the journey. Even today that is true.
May you be that to someone today.
 Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Chicken Soup for the Soul (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 1993), p. 3.
 William Barclay, Letter to the Hebrews: The Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh, Scotland: St. Andrews Press, 1955), pp. 137–138.
 Canfield and Hansen, Chicken Soup for the Soul, pp. 3–4.
 Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 1995), p. 3.
Excerpted from Stay Encouraged by KP Yohannan. Copyright © 2004 by KP Yohannan. (Wills Point, TX: GFA Books).
Dr. KP Yohannan, founder and director of the nonprofit organization Gospel for Asia, has written more than 200 books, including Revolution in World Missions, an international bestseller with more than 4 million copies in print. He and his wife, Gisela, have two grown children, Daniel and Sarah, who both serve the Lord with their families.
Gospel for Asia is a nonprofit organization serving the “least of these” in Asia since its beginning in 1979, often in places where no one else is serving. Gospel for Asia supports national workers who are serving as the hands and feet of Christ by ministering to people’s needs so they can understand the love of God for them for the first time. Gospel for Asia is engaged in dozens of projects, such as caring for poor children, slum dwellers and widows and orphans; providing clean water by funding wells; supporting medical missions; and meeting the needs of those in leprosy colonies. Through Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope Program, tens of thousands of children are being rescued from the generational curses of poverty and hopelessness.
Click here, to read more articles on Patheos by Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan.
Have there been times when someone else’s word of encouragement kept you going? Write about it in a comment below.