Saturday, February 1, 2014

Families that encourage

Encouragement! A gift that can be given at any time, to or from or any age. If you are a mom, a wife, a leader or a human being in general….you know that words of encouragement can completely change your day and outlook. We see time after time in scripture where believers work to encourage each other in faith, just as we are also called to do.

Last month we focused on prayer, this month we will look at ways to teach our families to be encouragers themselves. By no coincidence, one of the easiest things to do for someone as a method of encouragement is to pray for them! And since we covered that last month, we will use it as we go this month.  For the month of February we will be looking at three different aims of encouragement.

1. In the home

2. Among peers
3. To leaders

For most of us with kids, we realize that reality is there will be moments kids argue, fight, and worst of all.. cross that imaginary line in the backseat of the car into each other's space. These methods will not be a bypass for any of that, but will create moments that can become life long investments and teachable times for your family.

There is also interaction with peers, these days this can be everything from fellow workers, students, teammates, and our online communities. Especially in the online world, giving gifts of encouragement can help kids with the temptation of cyber bullying and understand that social media can be used in a positive way.

As for our leaders, over and over in scripture we see leaders encouraging one another. As leaders would become discouraged or work grew heavy, the received letters or visits encouraging them to continue their good work for the Lord. Leadership in any form is hard, and having someone pray for you or even just speak words of encouragement can be priceless. 

How we speak to each other can determine the mood of our home, workplace or online communities.

  • A younger sibling often beams with joy when an older sibling shows their approval. Encourage older siblings to vocalize something good that their younger brother or sister has done or is improving in. 
  • As parents, we lose access to our kids for about 7 hours a day while they attend school. Little notes of encouragement in lunches, backpacks or on bathroom mirrors as they start their day are great. 
  • Routine things like chores or homework, offering a kind word or even a helping hand can be encouraging. Often times we as parents are so happy it's simply done, that we fail to mention a job well done. Our kids need to hear these words. 
  • Say thank you! Every morning my 17 year comes downstairs and I have made some form of breakfast. Even if we are late and its a banana and a granola bar, he says thank you for whatever it is. It simply tells me my efforts didn't go unnoticed. Encourage everyone in your home to say thank you for every little thing, and watch the family interaction change. 
  • Encouragement in general is important; but spiritual encouragement is also needed. Praising your kids for noticing that they are in the word daily, or thanking them for praying at mealtimes will encourage them to keep going strong. 
  • Thanking a leader for being faithful, this speaks volumes

 Hebrews 3:13 says "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Finding ways to lift each other up in all areas of life  is an investment that will pay off as your children enter adulthood.  The question is how? Here are some ways to become a family of encouragement:

Here is the challenge for February:

1. Pick a leader to pray for, and let them know they are being prayed for, let kids choose a teacher or leader as well.
2. Offer 1 messages of encouragement a day on social media. Most Americans are on social media for an average of 17 minutes a day. Why not use 1 or 2 minutes to post a verse of encouragement or kind word to a peer.
3. Draw a name! Much like the "secret santa" concept, exchange names in your home and pray for your person, offer kind words, most families find that kids have a very natural gift of encouragement. 
4. Challenge your kids to offer one statement of encouragement to their siblings… this is amazing in action.

Random acts of kindness can be so encouraging, and many of us are great at them when it comes to strangers. I can't help but wonder what homes and workplaces, and schools would look like if the same effort was extended to those we love on a regular basis. 


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