It is no surprise that words have power. Even my two-year old knows that his words affect other people. Some of the most powerful words I have experienced have been words of encouragement. So much in life and ministry can be discouraging, but it is often the words of encouragement that remind us that the hard work is worth it and that we should stay the course. I am blessed to have some great encouragers in my life and in my ministry. My parents and my wife are a great source of blessing for me as I can always look to them to pick me up when I hit a slump. I am also blessed to have some great parents, volunteers, and staff members who are constant sources of encouragement for the work that we are doing in the student ministry.
Recently I have encountered several fellow ministers who are struggling with discouraging circumstances in their ministries. I totally get this as I have had times where my confidence was shaken or I felt the frustrations overtaking my perspectives. When these times begin to creep in I turn to my encouragers. I find encouragement from talking with people who have experienced transformation in our ministry. I find encouragement in reading the letters or notes from students that have taken the time to write a note of thanks or blessing. I find encouragement from simply talking about my discouragement with my encouragers. My hope for people who are struggling with discouragement is that God will put some people in their lives who can cheer them on and help them celebrate the positives while seeking to work out the negatives.
Knowing how much of a blessing it is to have encouragement also challenges me to be a better cheerleader for my students, ministry parents, and volunteers. Letting a student know that you are proud of them or that they did a great job is so simple and yet so powerful. Students can receive so many negative words that the positive words from an adult leader or parent can make a huge difference. Adolescence is also a time when students are defining their self-image, and we have a responsibility to help them see themselves as God sees them. There is nothing like seeing a student light up because you let them know that you think they are awesome. May God provide encouragement for you today as you seek to be an encouragement to others.