What is encouragement and why is it so essential for maintaining healthy marriages and families. Encouragement represents positive influence, to literally give courage to someone—not waiting until it’s deserved or asked for, but taking initiative when things are difficult and uncertain. There are many synonyms one could use: to give support, confidence or hope to another; to hearten, cheer, uplift, inspire, motivate, vitalize, embolden, or rally. The impact can be far reaching and often makes a difference when relationships begin to falter. Even the neuroscience gives credence to this dynamic. Criticism and negativity release harmful stress hormones, inhibit concentration, diminish the brain’s executive functioning, and tend to create knee-jerk reactions vs. calm and rational thinking.
The Bible provides a wonderful example of a life fully lived under this principle. His name was Barnabas and there are several lessons we can draw from his story. Here are six worth considering:
1. The first thing about an encourager is that he or she is practical.
Barnabas arrives on the scene in Acts 4:36-37. He was just a regular “Joe” (Joseph, a Levite), but his nature was so uplifting and encouraging, that the Apostles changed his name to fit his character—Bar (the Son of) Encouragement. He sold some land and laid the money at the Apostle’s feet. Here were the leaders of the first century church who were trying to take care of widows and orphans, and what they needed at the time were financial resources—so practical in the moment.Continue reading