(The magic of encouragement.)
So as mentioned in an earlier post, this January at Waratah we are going through a series on the spiritual disciplines called do yourself a favour. Well, I thought this was just the perfect phrase to describe what happened to me today when I decided to encourage someone.
I really mean this. It was amazing and it left me wondering who actually got the most out of it, me or the person I sent the email to. Not that I really should be surprised.
In his book ‘The God shaped brain,’ (which by the way is a magnificent read for the more logical thinkers out there looking for a more intellectual approach to faith) Tim Jennings M.D. points out that we can see the evidence for God in the application of certain laws or principals that consistently bring the same result. Like there are the great laws of physics which govern the physical universe, so there are laws which govern the spiritual realm which in turn impinge on our mental, emotional and even physical well-being. Determining the truth of such a theory is as simple as applying it and simply seeing what happens.
The greatest of these laws is the Law of Love. There are of course many forms and levels of love and many ways in which we can love people but probably the simplest, cheapest and yet most powerful form of loving others is encouragement.
Have you felt the power of this law of love in action through encouragement in your life lately? If you haven’t give it a go for at least a week in a row and see what happens.
Here’s what happened to me today.
I sat down and typed up an email to this friend of mine in Christian ministry overseas. It was actually in truth a semi-reply to an email of encouragement that I got from him before Christmas. But anyway, there I was typing away and then about halfway through my email I realized that my own joy, urge to give and even my own confidence in God’s plan for my life were all increasing with every keystroke.
This all the evidence here points to something extremely deep and mysterious going on in the deepest part of my being in the simplest act of writing an email of encouragement. An awareness of such an experience leads me to have to conclude that what the bible talks about in regards to the character of God and ourselves as bearing the likeness of God, (however, damaged it may be) is true.
Else-wise, why should I care?
Please hear what I’m saying here. I did not fire off an encouragement only to receive back a heartfelt thank you note and be touched by the thanks I got. NO, I noticed my joy, zeal and energy levels begin to increase long before and with no thought of any note of appreciation.
Encouragement is its own reward.
But here’s the million-dollar question: Why?
I’ll tell you why. Because, we’re spiritual beings and we’re designed to work a certain way and when we live ‘in tune’ with the way we’ve been designed it feels great.
Just for what it is.
It feels great precisely because in that moment, we are utterly, absolutely free from any need or desire for outside approval from any one or anywhere else.
Would you just love to live every single day with that level of freedom?
You don’t blow into a guitar; you don’t strum a saxophone. But when you play both instruments in the way that they have been designed to be played music happens and music affects the emotions.
How are your emotions?
Do yourself a favour, do what you were born to do, love someone in the most practical way. Encourage them without any thought of a thank you note, and try to explain why, if we’re just a concoction of carbon atoms why it feels like somewhere within you it feels like and instrument long dormant is being played the way it was designed to be.
What if we saw other people in life as opportunities for encouragement? It all begins with a choice.