I’ve no idea who wrote it. I found it propped up on the piano when I went into one of my schools: a small whiteboard containing 30 words and a smiley face. It made me wonder. Had it been written with someone specific in mind? Or was it simply a “random act of kindness”, intended to encourage whoever happened across it? Maybe it doesn’t matter, as I came out of that room feeling better about myself than when I went in.
But it also challenged me. How do I make sure that I encourage those around me, whether it’s seen or unseen? Am I brave enough to reach out to other people, even if I don’t know the end result? Or am I too wrapped up in my own difficulties to remember that I am called to support others, too?
Romans 12 lists encouragement among the spiritual gifts. It ought to be one of the easiest gifts to exercise, although it’s often disregarded in favour of other, more “super-spiritual” gifts. Yet it’s a vital component of a well-functioning church life. I’m realising that I have a responsibility both to encourage those around me, but also to acknowledge and receive the encouragement they offer me.
I’m thankful for all those who have encouraged me over the years. I feel blessed to have friends who will go out of their way to remind me that they care, even though I’m not always as aware as I should be of their concern. One provides endless cups of tea and a shoulder to cry on. Another listens to me moan when I’ve had a bad day, and then reminds me (gently) that God still loves me even when my pupils don’t.
I need to acknowledge the long-term impact of my actions, too. Someone recently bought me some flowers after I’d had an off-week. They made my lounge a much brighter place, but the real blessing was the thought behind them: that gift will stay with me long after the roses have been consigned to the dustbin.
If you have any further thoughts about how we can encourage each other, I’d love to hear from you…