We had two days to evaluate this past year’s program.
We’ve talked a lot about adult learning options lately, so to think through the encouragements of this year’s activities we were given paper banners where we could write what we considered our successes over these past months. When taped to the wall, the visual of all the things we felt grateful for, things we’d accomplished, was a more significant impact than just speaking about them.
We didn’t do everything right or even well. We’ll discuss what we will do differently, and how we can improve on what we’d done this year.
It was encouraging to see we’d done quite a few things well. It was the hope we all needed to move forward and continue to strive for excellence.
We all do so much better when we’re being encouraged. Having the chance to hear from others that we’ve done a good job or have excelled at a project we’ve undertaken makes the difference between just doing a job and actually shining at what we’ve done.
Words of encouragement can stick with us. I still remember my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Green. She was a stickler for creative writing; she’d offer us opportunities to create stories and poetry with prompts she’d come up with. I wrote several stories which brought great accolades from her. I’ll never forget what she told me at the end of the year. “I can hardly wait to read the rest of the story.”
Somebody believed in me.
When someone believes in us, it’s an investment of hope. It’s easy to believe the lies that constantly loop through our minds, shining a light of shame on the mistakes and poor choices we’ve made. Those thoughts can undermine our best efforts.
But when we’re believed in, we can be intentional about pushing those lies and shame away.
To be encouraged, though, we need to be known. To truly inspire us to be our best, someone needs to know us well enough to be honest with us.
God does that for us. He knows each of us thoroughly, with all our messiness, and still chooses to love us.
“O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me. you know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away…You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.” Psalm 139:1, 2, 4
God misses nothing. I know what goes on in my own head; not always things I want anyone to know. To recognize that God knows these things and still loves me reminds me of His perfect love for me.
He chooses to encourage us.
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
We’re all burdened by weariness, but God says He will encourage us with His strength and purpose. He will allow us to soar above our circumstances to see His perspective.
Encouragement is a motivation to pursue success. To not quit.
With God in our corner, we’ve got the One who knows us and won’t quit on us.
That’s true encouragement.