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Encouragement matters

The National Day of Encouragement  occurs every year on September 12 in the United States. This special day started in 2007 at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and is intended as a day dedicated to the uplifting of those around us. The idea, of course, is for Americans to make specific acts of encouragement by words and deeds to others on this specific day, with the hope that this way of living will become a reality in our everyday lives. The point of this National Day of Encouragement is that encouragement matters, and it really does.

I am of the opinion that everybody needs a word of encouragement every day. I am also of the opinion that a person’s hopeful words can change the lives of others.

Perhaps no other thing encourages a child more than an honest and sincere compliment. It enables a child to love life, seek achievement and grow in confidence.

Ruth Hayward in “The Positive Discipline of Praise” relates how she tried to correct her daughter’s poor handwriting. It was a constant struggle between them. After the first day  of school, the daughter came home excited about the teacher’s saying: “She told me I can write well. I wasn’t scared of her. Everybody said she would find something good about us all.” From that day, her daughter enjoyed school. She became eager to please when she was praised.

There’s a lot of hurting going on in our world, and we never know when a word of encouragement will brighten a person’s day. At the end of our days it won’t matter how many times we have been “right” in arguments with other people. What will finally matter is whether we encouraged other people. As I mentioned, people around us are tired, lonely, anxious, angry and hurting. What they need is not an argument but some encouragement.

In the book “Upon This Rock,” the Rev. Youngblood says, “Many have the Lord, but my own life with Christ forces me to confess that even when you’ve got the Lord, every now and then you need somebody else.”  And we do.

Addressing the 2018 LaGrange College graduating class, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, resident Bishop of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church, gave the graduates a significant word of encouragement. She concluded her message with these words, “You, graduating class of 2018, are instruments in God’s hand. I leave you to God’s care. Listen well and go as God leads you. You are God’s finest gift to the world. Go transform it with your giftedness.”

That’s also God’s direction and encouragement to us all. Encouragement matters.