Have you ever known someone who believed in you, someone who frequently spoke words of encouragement and praise? The kind of person who made you feel you could do it, whatever "it" was? That’s the kind of person God wants us to be. Paul gave a good guideline when he wrote that everything we say should build up the one who is listening.
Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29 NLT).
Do you bring sunshine or gloom into the room? If you are a negative person, don't say, "I'm just a worrier. I was born that way." Or, "It’s my nature to be depressed." God is in the personality-changing business. He wants you to "be conformed to the likeness of his Son" (Romans 8:29). You can change. You can become known for your encouraging words.
Life is full of problems, and we need to deal with them. But if we aren't careful, all we see are the problems. There are lots of good things we can focus on. Instead of "catching people being bad," catch them being good. Make your words a fountain of life. Be a positive person. Encourage one another.
Ask God to help you develop a positive thought life. Immerse yourself in his Word. Pray. Over time, you will discover that you can control the way you think, choosing to focus on some thoughts and to reject others. The following verse can be life changing. Write it out and post it where you will see it regularly, on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror or the dashboard of your car.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
When you wake up in the morning, ask God to help you look for and focus on the positive. Pray for this attitude throughout the day. Choose to meditate on the positive. Bring sunshine into the world.
When you talk, you make a series of choices about what subjects to discuss, what memories to bring up, and what points to make. There always are negative things you could say, but there also are positive ones. Choose the positive. Choose to specialize in encouraging words, not in critical comments.
Don't start complaining as soon as you see your spouse, child, employee, neighbor or someone else. Ask about his or her day. Give a compliment. Share stories about your day, insights from Bible study, victories on the job, or other things they may be interested in.
Acknowledge others' abilities and efforts. If someone feels inadequate, encourage him or her.
Learn to be self-aware and listen to what you say. Be sure you make many more positive comments than negative ones.
Watch out for subtle ways you may tear others down, such as pointing out how quickly you can mow the lawn when you know it takes them twice as long.
There are times in every relationship—in a family, on the job, or wherever—when people discuss difficult topics. When you do, speak in a courteous, friendly manner. The way you speak usually is more important than whether your opinions are right or wrong.
Personal application 1: Plan to say encouraging words.
(1) List the key people in your life.
(2) Beside each name, write how encouraging you are with that person.
(3) Pray for God to help you recognize the power of encouragement and to encourage one another—to say encouraging words, not discouraging words.
Personal application 2: Follow through and encourage others daily.
Make it a habit to encourage those around you. Consider keeping track of how you are doing on a day-by-day basis. For example, you could:
(1) Make a brief note on a calendar each day you encourage someone.
(2) Keep an encouragement journal or diary.