WHO CAN YOU ENCOURAGE TODAY?
I always liked the word, ENCOURAGE because it means to “give support, confidence, or hope” to someone. It means to speak and act “from the heart”. It means to have and to show “enthusiasm” to and with others. And notice the last three letters of the word – encourAGE! There must be a lesson there someplace! The Lord has placed people of all ages around us so that we can encourAGE and be encourAGED by people younger and older than we are!
Remember the line from the golden oldie song, “Home, Home on the Range”, which goes, “where the deer and the antelope play, where seldom is heard a discouraging word….”? I remember a cartoon that shows a deer and an antelope talking and one says to the other, “I think I just heard a discouraging word!”
One of the major issues in today’s culture is that there are way too many discouraging words flying around ….in homes, in churches, in organizations, in politics, through twitter, Facebook, and ….it goes on and on and on. Top leaders in government and society continue to “Demean the Decent”. How much more clearly does the Lord need to encourage us than proclaiming in Micah 6:8 – “….What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” When are we going to finally catch on that even within the Church, we act more like DUH-ciples than Disciples?
But rejoice, people of God! There is hope! There are people of God, young and old, continuing to be encourAGERS, in the Lord! There is a growing number of young people listening and asking older people for their support, encouragement, and advice. There is a growing number of older adults serving as mentors and friends of teenagers. The numbers are growing of older people and younger people actually learning to like and appreciate one another! There is a growing number of congregations bringing children, youth, and adults all back together through one worship experience for all ages , rather than segregating them through Children’s’ Church, Senior Saints Sessions, and Youth-Only worship opportunities.
One exciting specific example of these kinds of encourAGEing experiences was held last month at Concordia University-Chicago, as the new Kreft Student Success Center was dedicated. This was followed by an upbeat extravaganza dinner and program to highlight the life and ministries of Karl and Shirley Kreft, super encourAGERS , indeed! Videos of the many ministries where the Krefts have touched the lives of students, parents, staff, and communities, were shown and celebrated. Presidents and other leaders were present from most of the institutions throughout the world where the Krefts have been encourAGERS through word and deed. The crowd was an intergenerational crowd as well, with students, staff, family, and friends joining together to celebrate their life together, in the Lord!
My point here is not that we need to have big extravaganzas in order to encourAGE and affirm people, although that sure is a fun way to do so! How about watching and planning and being involved in other ways of supporting, enabling, and encourAGING people, simply by:
- Sending notes and saying thanks to former educators and pastors who have made a positive impact in your life?
- Remembering to invite a “retired/repositioned” friend for coffee and to thank him or her for what they have meant to you.
- How about us older people being more intentional about being the kind of person to younger people that we needed to have around us when we were “growing up”?
- How about actually talking more with those who are younger than us and older than us. Why not visit someone older than us, just to listen to stories of the past. I think we’d be surprised at how much we would learn together.
- What if we older people would “ask for help” more, from those younger than us? An amazing thing happened in Chicago this winter when some older adults were not able to handle the snow shoveling necessary to clear their driveways – and younger people , when they sensed this “call for help”, came to the rescue by developing a “Snow Shoveling “ brigade to respond accordingly!
Blessings as, together, we continue to encourage one another in love. Perhaps it is time for us to be more like the deer and the antelope! Watch and listen for those AH-HA Moments around you…..in the Lord!