"When you set your priorities you are literally writing history in advance."
-Tom Skinner (1942-1994)
"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood."
-Daniel H. Burnham, on devising Chicago's plan of 1909
"Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up."
I am right now preparing and packing to head to Utah. I will leave Thursday, July 9th and return on Wednesday, July 22nd and will be traveling with a group of ten friends to assist First Baptist Church of Monticello with their annual Vacation bible School. The following crew will head west with me: Donnie Brown, Preston Willis, Chris Stiles, Katie Milliner, Corinne Rogero, Chris Rogero, MacyAnn Holland, Caroline Clark, and Olivia Ricketts. We'll stop in Little Rock, Arkansas and Amarillo, Texas as we travel to a from Monticello. Please keep us on your prayer list.
Whenever I travel anywhere with a group I am always reminded of the importance of encouragement. Words are so important as we travel. They can make or break the trip.
Proverbs is loaded with little sermons on words, our talk, our tongues, and the results of right or wrong usage. We are warned often of lying lips, tale-bearers, false witnesses, words of the wicked, and grievous words.
Proverbs 12:25 reminds us that it doesn't take a bunch of words to encourage a person. In fact, scripture doesn't even use the plural but says a word (singular) will get the job done!
Look at that verse again! A discouraged, down-trodden, defeated heart is what we have here. It's a worried heart. It may be a high school kid who just flunked Spanish, a girl who just broke up with her guy, or a student who just found out that dad's leaving. We see them every day. People like this often become the objects of our ridicule or joking. Sometime we simply avoid them because we are afraid we'll say the wrong thing, ask the wrong question and make matters worse. They need encouragement!
A little encouragement goes a long, long way! According to scripture, an encouraging word can turn things around, make a bad day good.
You know, we have a tendency to dwell on the negative side of every issue in life. I don't know why but we do. Maybe we're programmed to do that, after all, most moms and dads will overlook three A's and 2 B's to point out that one D on a report card. The news is 99.9% bad with murders, muggings, and armed robberies. Newspapers are mostly "printed TV" echoing all the bad news of the day. So anyone who really needs encouragement usually finds it away from newspapers, TV, and sometimes, even people!
We who know Jesus should use fewer words, spoken from sensitive hearts, and give encouragement to those whose hearts are heavy. Here are a few things that come to mind as I think of ways to encourage others:
1. Smile, that may be all it takes to cheer someone up. There's nothing wrong with a hug either. After a smile and a hug, a word may not even be necessary.
2. Teddy Roosevelt said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." We ought to "speak softly" and do it from a big heart. Words formed in big hearts are generally well-placed and can become a huge part of a much-needed healing process.
3. If you don't know what to say, don't say anything! Grab a hand, give a hug . . . those things speak volumes.
4. Listen. There are few good listeners in the world today. Listeners are rare treasures to anyone but especially when someone just wants to unload.
5. Be available . . . whenever! Even 24/7!
As I read the scriptures, I am constantly reminded that Jesus was always an encouragement to those with heavy hearts. He was always lifting and encouraging, always a healer, always a listener, and always used his words wisely.
That's one of my goals for Utah. In fact, that's one of my goals for life.
To encourage like Jesus.