Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
THE ENCOURAGEMENT PROJECT
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11
Good morning Prayer Team!
As we wind down this unit on encouragement, let’s go back to the very beginning of our discussion. It began with one verse from I Thessalonians, calling on us to encourage one another and build one another up. I hope that in this study has helped you to realize three important things:
First, that encouragement is really an important component to our lives. Most of the messages we receive in everyday life are messages of discouragement. We need encouragement not only to keep us in balance, but to tilt the scales to a feeling of positivity. Too much discouragement leads to negativity. Regular infusions of encouragement lead us to a more positive outlook, which affects productivity, joy, love, intimacy and so many other things. It’s amazing to see how even a little encouragement can go a long way.
Second, encouragement is a gift that everyone wants and needs. There is no one who doesn’t like an encouraging word. I try to make it a practice to shake hands of soldiers in uniform and simply say “thank you for serving.” I have never had a bad reaction to this, never had a soldier who didn’t shake my hand in return, never had a soldier who didn’t say thank you. The same holds true for anyone else I’ve ever offered encouragement to. I’ve never had someone get angry or react in a negative way. The reactions have been thank you’s, hugs, sometimes the person I encourage offers to do more work, and sometimes a person I’ve encouraged has even cried because they didn’t think anyone was noticing their efforts. Encouragement is something everyone wants and needs and when you encourage, you are just about guaranteed a positive outcome. You may get a more dedicated co-worker, you may even make a friend.
And third, encouragement is something we can all do. It doesn’t take any special training or certification. There are no tests to take or books to read. Anyone can be an encourager. All it takes is a heart that sees the good in others and desires to compliment that good. Anyone can be an encourager.
It’s amazing to think that the Epistle to the Thessalonians, along with all the other Epistles of St. Paul, were written nearly two thousand years ago to upstart churches in the first decades after the Resurrection. And yet, two thousand years later, these words ring true for us. Encouragement is needed as much now as it was back then and as much as it will be needed hundreds of years from now when the church still will be reading these words.
Encouragement is something to teach our children and grandchildren. It is a value that needs to be sowed into the soil of each generation. So, I encourage you to learn the art of encouragement. Be a voice of encouragement. Build up each other. Make that a goal for every day, to encourage at least one person, to build up at least one person.
Lord, thank You for the light of a new day. Please send people into my life who need encouragement. Allow me to be an instrument of Your grace, mercy and love and to be a voice of encouragement. Send thoughts to my mind and into my heart so that I may offer encouragement to others. And give me the wisdom and the courage to be an encourager, to build others up, and to please You in this effort. Amen.
Build up someone today!
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