**A re-post from February 2009
The third, and last - I promise - "installment" on encouragement. Who to encourage. The possibilities truly are endless. Here are a few.....
1) Your pastor. No pastor is perfect. At least I haven't met one yet, but met many good ones. No matter, he needs encouragement too. He of all people, can't just openly let the world know if he is discouraged. One of my brothers-in-law is a pastor, and I know from talking to he and my sister, they truly appreciate all that their congregation does for them.
A. Attend services. It has got to be discouraging to a pastor when people miss services. It should be rare, and with good reason, even mid-week services
B. Compliment him on sermons. If he preaches a message that speaks to you and encourages you, tell him. I know when I had to speak in church, it made me feel good when someone would compliment me. Pastors appreciate it too.
C. Have the pastor and his family over to eat. Yes, I have actually done this a few times in my life. I can cook. :-)
D. Pray for him. Let him know. Yeah, point made already, but your pastor needs your prayers more than you will ever know.
E. Drop him a card or gift, not just on Pastor Appreciation Sunday.
F. Offer to help out where needed. And if he asks you to do a task, do so cheerfully, even if you aren't seen doing it.........
A note of caution: if your pastor asks you if you will help him, ask details before agreeing. I made the mistake of not doing that once, and ended up calling for VBS, a traumatic experience, especially since at the first house he sent me to on my own, I was accused of first being a salesman, and then a Jehovah Witness.
2) Your Sunday School teacher. Our class is different than some. We have someone in charge, who speaks more than others, but most of the year, we have different speakers take on different topics, sometimes a month at a time. Regardless of the set up, these people need encouragement.
A. Attend your class. One of my pet peeves is people who belong in a certain class and don't go. Or skip out entirely.
B. Pay attention and participate. I like it when there is class discussion, especially if it is something that pertains to me.
C. Drop them an encouraging note or email.
3) Your boss. We don't often think of it, but bosses can use encouragement also, especially if they have to answer to someone higher up the totem pole. Also, just being on time, and a hard worker is encouraging to them.
4) Your spouse. Yeah, they need encouragement, especially being married to you. :-) I am not married, but will toss out a few ideas. Of course I have some, even though I am a bachelor. Here are just a few....
A. Compliment your wife. Surely there is something. If she looks nice, tell her. If the meal was good, tell her. If it was a burnt sacrifice, tell her you love her sacrificial spirit.
B. Help. Of course you work to support the family, but she has her plate full. Run the vacuum once in awhile. Help clear the table and do the dishes. Watch the kids and let her have her night out without the kids and hubby.
C. Do things for her. Fill her car up with gas. Wash the car. Buy her flowers when you haven't done anything wrong. The possibilities are endless. Sure, they are ways to keep your marriage alive, but it can encourage her and make her day brighter.
Women: (ok, this could go badly.....) :-)
A. Compliment your husband. If he looks nice, tell him. If he does a good job supporting the family, tell him often.
B. Help him. The list of ways to help him may not be as long as how he can help you, but there are small ways to help him out.
C. Keep the house neat. It has got to help his mood to come home to a neat house, his clothes washed and supper on the table. Dream world? Maybe, but working isn't always fun - sometimes it brings rough days. Make the atmosphere he comes home to something that will left his spirits.
D. Buy him something. Most guys aren't into flowers, but they still like gifts.
E. Leave the toilet seat up for him occasionally.
OK, that wasn't too bad. Hope the women don't descend on me with wrath. :-)
5) Your parents. Yes, you can even encourage them. If they are Christians, and raised you right, one of the best ways to encourage them, is to serve God with all your might.
Then some of the others fall in: compliments, phone calls, hugs. Parents need it too, and siblings, and other relatives. We shouldn't just encourage those in our family, but neither should we neglect them and focus only on others.
6) Friends. I think we should focus on friends just about as much as our relatives, especially if they are single, divorced, widowed. Walking the road to Heaven alone is rough, even if one doesn't have some major trials. If your friends blog, comment. Post a cheery message on facebook - do something fairly often for them, if it is just an email or comment.
7) The mailman. The cashier. The people you run across as you go throughout your day. The woman ringing up your groceries could be a single mom struggling to keep things afloat. A smile and kind word could go a long way to making her day brighter.
I may have touched on this already, but we are too busy. We walk down the sidewalk, or through the store, rarely making eye contact or ex hanging smiles with a stranger. We have so many gadgets: computers, cell phones, Blackberrys, and yet we never have time for anyone.
We all need God foremost of all, but we need each other. Let's all slow down and look for ways to encourage others and make their burden a little lighter and their day a bit brighter. It's what we want people to do for us when we are down and discouraged, so let us do unto others as we would have them do to us: encourage.
A side note in ending these posts on encouragement: I did a goof with the notes when I was preparing to speak on it a few years ago. I had typed almost the whole service on my computer, and it died, so I lost them. Bought a new PC and started over, and the PC had an issue. Completely forgetting the notes were on it, I returned it, got a different PC, got home and realized what I had done. So for the third time, I started over with the notes. It was discouraging, which is ironic given the topic. :-)