The last few weeks I have felt an overwhelming sense of encouragement from the Christians around me and of God’s love.
I got to a point where I had reached my limit and I had to take a break, I just felt exhausted by what life was throwing at me, but at my lowest point, the Christians around me were so loving and amazing! Despite how I felt towards my situation, God had given me people (some that I am still getting to know) who just reminded me of God’s constant love!
Unfortunately the Christian “world” can be one of the places where you will get the least amount of gratitude or encouragement! But why is this? We have situations like:-
- Youth/childrens’ workers working many hours a week, with no thanks from the young people or their families!
- Audio visual technicians (the men and/or women who look after the sound and put the words up on the screen) tirelessly trying their best to ensure that all the band or speakers are heard and that the song words/verses come up when they are meant to!)- instead of people thanking them when it is a packed service, they will be picked apart for the most minute, and more often than not unnecessary criticism!
- Church caretakers, who although they are “caring for the church building” the congregation also think they are to be on call 24/7 and responsible for almost anything that doesn’t come under the duties of a minister!
- Volunteers who are willing to give so much of their time to aid “the church” in serving the community, end up at times overloaded as the old adage says “if you want something done ask a busy person” and “90% of work in a church is done by 10% of the members of the church“
- someone who organised a huge conference, and remembers to thank all that helped them, does not get any recognition at the end of the conference!
So how does this happen? Apparently it is quite common for charities to overload their volunteers and even staff, this could be down to the fact that charities and churches are reliant on volunteers doing it, because the workers believe in “the cause“, but because the volunteers know that things need doing, they feel obligated to complete tasks when more help may be required!
The bible tells us to encourage one another, this takes any of 3 ways:-
- To mentally support; to motivate, give courage, hope or spirit.- “go on you can do it!!”
- Encouraging a good idea, and dissipating it to others
- To foster, give help or patronage-what youth workers/pastors/elders/deacons should be doing, getting alongside people and helping them in their daily walk, being the person to say “I will stand with you, and fight your corner!“
I read about an incident where a church minister was approached aggressively by a member of his congregation after he gave a sermon and thanked the team who look after the teas and coffees every week, the member said “How dare you rob those people of their heavenly reward!” Which reminds me of another incident where another minister was criticised for choosing the song “I want to serve the purpose of God in my generation“! what was the criticism? “the song has no relevance to me!”
We are too keen to pick holes in each other, every time a group of Christians meet, we should be challenged by each other, encouraged by each other and reminded that we are loved by God and have sisters and brothers “in Christ” who will stand with us and encourage us!
As Paul writes many times, we are in a race, Matt Summerfield has written an amazing book called “Live life 123” Using the analogy of a Relay race, he encourages the reader to have:-
- One Person to encourage and mentor you
- Two people to “run with”
- Three people who you can encourage and mentor and maybe “pass on the baton” to.
We should not just surround ourselves with people who “boost our ego” but we should have people who will pull you up when you are wrong! But when relating to others we need to think:-
- Is it right?
- Is it helpful?
- Is it constructive, if not can we reword it, so it is constructive?
If we as Christians are incapable of being encouraging to one another, how can we be surprised when non-Christians look at us and say “And they call themselves a Christian? If that’s what a Christian is, I don’t want to be one!” So how can I encourage you to build others up? How can we be more encouraging and less critical?
- Thank people every time they do something for you.
- Ask someone “do you need any help?”
- If something goes wrong, don’t criticise first, ask what happened, sometimes it is out of their control or just an accident/weird occurrence!
- If someone is your child’s teacher, thank them and ask how they are getting on?
- Ask other people how they are getting on? I realise that saying “alright?”, isn’t always conducive especially when I want to see how they are and all you get in response is “yeah” or “alright?” (the verbal version of a nod or a wave of the hand!)
Once again, I wanna say that there are some awesome people out there! Christians and non-Christians, who give me great encouragement, and to you if you are reading this?