When I was in the lawn and landscape business several years ago, I learned a lesson that I will never forget. I had about six employees at this time, and each morning, we would prepare the equipment before heading out to work. I would instruct the employees on their scheduled tasks for that day and remind them of the specific requirements necessary to make sure their work was both quality and provided customers with top-notch service. As time went on, however, I noticed that my employees didn’t seem to be that happy. They almost always had frowns on their faces.
One day, one of my employees mentioned that I never said thank you. I thought about that deeply. I thought to myself, I give them raises and bonuses on a regular basis, so why aren’t they thankful? I realized that what they really needed was encouragement—and that I never encouraged them! As soon as I started giving them positive feedback, the work place became happier, and they started to perform their jobs better. This is a lesson we all must remember.
God has given us an awesome responsibility in this great Work of His: a responsibility to become kings and priests. You and I are destined to be teachers in the World Tomorrow. God is giving us everything we need to be prepared for this teaching job, but there is one essential tool in particular that we need to have in order to be ready: encouragement.
This is one of the most important tools we have to help us practice the give way of life, and it is something that we must prepare to teach others about as well. Every human being needs encouragement. Without it, a person’s growth can be greatly limited.
Giving encouragement to others is one of the responsibilities we all have as members in God’s Church. In The Incredible Human Potential, Mr. Armstrong wrote: ”… Christ gave the lay body of the Church the special mission to back up His apostles in their going forth with the gospel to the world—with their prayers, encouragement, tithes, and offerings.
“But this giving of their prayers, encouragement and financial support was God’s assignment as the very means of developing in them God’s holy, righteous character—that they, with the apostles and evangelists, may qualify to rule with and under Christ in God’s Kingdom. This very means of character development within the laity is the way of GIVING—not Satan’s way of getting.”
Giving encouragement is a means by which we can support the Work. Mr. Armstrong grouped it in importance with giving our prayers, tithes and offerings. Plus, giving encouragement is one way God develops His character in us.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of “encourage” is: “To inspire with hope, courage, or confidence.” It also means, “To give support to; to stimulate.”
Jesus Christ is the King of encouragement. There are many examples in the Bible where Christ encouraged people to change and grow. If we are going to be this way, we must let His mind live in us (Philippians 2:5). Here are three character traits Jesus Christ exhibits that show us how to become kings of encouragement.
Keep Your Mind on Others
The first step to becoming a king of encouragement is: Strive to keep your mind on others.
Galatians 5:13-14 says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” One way we can show love to others is by encouraging them. Getting and keeping your mind on others is the way of give. Philippians 2:3 also speaks of esteeming others better than self—putting others’ happiness above your own.
Encouragement is not natural for human beings—we don’t normally think to do it. A mindset of encouraging others has to be built in us by God’s Spirit leading us. It guides us to look at others and see what they need. We can get so wrapped up in our own hardships that we forget about what other people are going through. What we should do is stop worrying about our own problems, trials and tests and start encouraging others through theirs. The more we train ourselves now to keep our minds on others, the more powerfully God can use us in the future.
On the night before He was crucified, Jesus Christ focused on His disciples rather than Himself in His prayers to God (John 17). Strive to emulate His example.
Look For Ways to Encourage
The second step to becoming a king of encouragement is: Look for ways to encourage.
1 Corinthians 10:24 says, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” The word seek means “to be about, desire, endeavor, or inquire.” The word wealth means “well-being.” We are to be about or to desire our brother’s well-being.
Ask God to give you opportunities to “seek” a brother’s well-being by encouraging him. You can also look at and listen to others for opportunities to encourage them in the areas where they need encouragement. If you are really looking and listening, those opportunities will arise.
Some ways we can encourage others is to compliment them on a job well done, on their appearance or dress, or even for how they might have handled a situation they were in, if they handled it well. Sometimes, you can cheer someone up by something as simple as “Good job!” Sometimes, all you have to do is listen to someone in order to encourage them.
Sabbath fellowship is a great opportunity to look for ways to encourage others, whether it is by complimenting them or listening to them. In his booklet Jude, Pastor General Gerald Flurry exhorts us to seize every opportunity or moment we have. Sabbath fellowship is one of those opportunities. Let’s take this admonition from our apostle and seize the opportunity to practice the way of give at Sabbath services.
If Encouragement is Needed, Act on It
The third step to becoming a king of encouragement is: Act on any need for encouragement you see.
Romans 14:19 says, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” Sometimes, we can get so busy in our day-to-day lives that we don’t follow through when we see someone who needs encouragement, or we ignore a thought to encourage or compliment someone. Sometimes, it is even God who puts that thought in our minds. Do we act on it? And if we do act and give an encouraging word, is it sincere and filled with compassion?
I specifically remember a few brethren who have encouraged me. One member in my local congregation has encouraged me many times over the years. One day, I thought, That person always encourages me. I’m going to compliment them on how good they are at encouraging others. When I did, this person said, “You don’t know how much I needed to hear that.” Later on, I found out this member had just had a really rough week. That inspired me to want to encourage others even more!
If someone tells you about a trial or test they are going through, try to stir them to look at the trial positively. We all can have a positive effect on others if we act when we see encouragement is needed.
In the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Mr. Armstrong told the story of when he was encouraged by his boss while working at a hotel in Altoona, Iowa. He was only 16 at the time, yet this encouragement gave him a spark of ambition and motivated him to work harder. It lit a fire in him! The encouragement he received helped to build the great Work we are a part of today.
Our Future Role
Why do we need to be kings of encouragement? When you look at our future as kings, you know we will need to know how to encourage the world. In The Last Hour, Mr. Flurry writes, “… [W]e must never forget about the world! … If we forget we are here to prepare for THEM, we won’t be able to do this Work.”
One of the greatest needs in this world right now and in the future is encouragement. The people who come out of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord will need our encouragement. Pause for a moment and imagine what they will have gone through. The whole world will look to us for encouragement. They will all need our personal attention.
Today God spends precious time teaching and encouraging you. In the future, you will spend precious time teaching and encouraging the world. Encouragement will be one of their greatest needs.
We have a tremendous job to get ready for. We must be ready to encourage all mankind so that they can grow and produce fruits. Prepare now for that future by becoming a king of encouragement!