When we think of encouragement we place in our mind the building up of others in words and actions. Simply said it means to place “Courage” inside of the other person. Do you remember the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz?
The Lion felt like he was inferior to others, he felt that he couldn’t be depended upon to come to the rescue of his friends when he was very strong and very meek. Meekness is not weakness as some would say but meekness means power under control. This is what the Lion had and didn’t know, he was meek. What the Lion needed was that inner courage that would give him the confidence that he so desired.
Many times, we have a picture of ourselves where we often compare ourselves to others by their appearance or words. Confident people are often meek in that they think out their purpose and don’t often conflict with others. Confident people will weigh the consequence of their own actions and understand that things might get worse before they get better. This is where the Lion was in his life. He needed someone to confirm in him that he was indeed strong and confident and to give him permission to be the protector. The Lion needed someone to encourage him.
I have worked with some of the best minds in the business from manufacturing to institutional services and have found that even the Presidents of large companies often need encouragement. While they may be the top in their field, they realize that their staff depend on their decisions to guide the company and these Presidents and CEO’s will often question themselves. “Am I doing the right thing?” is the question they most often ask themselves when they know the answer is yes. Here is where encouragement is a necessity. Encourage comes from the French word of Cour meaning the heart. Remember this quote, “Big People think with a Big Heart.”
True encouragement is more that stating to someone that they can do it, it’s more than telling a team that they have another chance next year. Encouragement is an Art where we tell the truth in order to build confidence in the heart of the other.
Encouragement starts by pulling out the good and the bad of past events and separating them into parts that can be studied. Encouragers are those that analyze each situation and explain to the hearers that there are reasons the thing was a success or a failure. Encouragers define the points that need to be replicated and also those that need to be refined.
When a football team is winning at half time there is an air of excitement in the locker room. An encourager coach will build the team up with phrases like, “you are the best team on the field tonight”, or “This is why we practice so hard through the week guys, so we can prove we are a winning team.” Then the encourager coach will go on to recognize the plays that put that team ahead, he will also recognize the things that the team can do better. He does all of this to build confidence in his team and to prepare them for what the other coach is telling his team.
Meanwhile the team with the lower score on the board hears a different message from their coach. An abusive coach will tell the team how poor they are playing and why they are losers. An encourager coach will start off by telling the team that they can do better. He says he knows they have the ability to go back out in the second half and be a better team. That same encourager coach then does the same thing with his team, he finds the things that were a success and recognizes them and he also points out the areas for improvements. This coach will go one step further in that he feels with the team, he has compassion with them. Sure, he might work them harder the next week on the practice field but winning teams are built with encourager coaches.
Dr. John Maxwell calls encouragement, “Oxygen for the soul.” I believe that statement is so true. My wife is my biggest encourager. I was the kid in school that would take an F in class before giving a speech. Later in life when I began speaking in front of crowds and congregations, my wife encouraged me to be the best that I could. She told me continuously four words that sustained me, “I believe in you.” What did those words do for me? They touched my heart
I have spoken in over 13 states to many different groups and the words that I use include those same words my wife spoke to me. You can make a difference in the heart of others when you believe in them.