Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

I Thessalonians 5:11


Have you ever heard anyone say “I get way too much encouragement from other people”?  Or “I don’t like when I get positive reinforcement.”  Quite the opposite—most people will agree that we don’t get enough encouragement and that virtually everyone likes getting positive reinforcement. 


There are four undeniable facts:


People need to receive encouragement.  No one is an island.  There is something in us that wants to know that we are on the right path, be it with something big, like life, or something small, like a homework project or a sports game.  Can you imagine what life would be like without encouragement?  We’d all actually make a lot more mistakes.  Why?  Because we all come to “forks in the road” on many occasions, and it is encouragement (from hopefully the right sources, those who encourage the good) that often is the determining thing that points us in the right direction. 


People like to receive encouragement.  Who doesn’t like hearing “you’re doing great,” or “I believe in you,” or “I trust you,” or “that was really cool”?  We all like that.  There are some people who are needy, who do things only to please others.  That is not healthy.  I certainly don’t stand at the door on Sundays hoping to be praised for a good sermon or a nice service.  However, if no one ever gave any positive feedback, I’d wonder, “does what I do matter to anyone?”  We all like compliments.  We all like positive feedback.  We all like receiving encouragement.


People would like to receive more encouragement.  Ask just about anyone over the age of 13 if they hear more encouraging or discouraging voices in the world, and they will tell you that the discouraging voices win by a lot.  For some, discouragement from unlikely sources—parents, spouses, even children.  We all get a dose of discouragement from watching or reading the news.  To counterbalance this, we need to give as much encouragement to as many people as possible.  It is a choice to be an encourager or a discourager.  It’s choice to see the glass half full or half empty.  It’s a choice to see the good or only see the bad in people and situations.  When we talk about God as a loving and merciful God, I definitely think God would favor encouragement, and seeing the good in people and things. 


Encouragement is something we can all give.  It doesn’t require a degree to encourage others.  It doesn’t require one to be a certain age or have any specialized training.  All it requires is one to have a heart that encourages others. 


The verse from I Thessalonians 5:11 links encouragement with building people up.  Because that’s what encouragement does—it builds people up.  It helps to build confidence in others.  When we encourage others, whether we intend to or not, we are building them up.  And when we don’t encourage, or when we discourage others, we tear others down, we tear down their self-confidence. 


If encouragement is something we all need more of, as well as something we can all give, then we all ought to make encouragement a priority, something we intentionally do every day.  One goal from my childhood is to learn something new every day.  To this goal, I have added, to say something encouraging to at least one person each day.  Encouragement is a choice, offering encouragement daily is a healthy habit.


One of the most encouraging messages I have ever received was a three word text I received from a friend.  I was about to lead a session of summer camp.  I was extremely nervous, even though leading summer camp is something I very much enjoy and generally feel pretty confident with.  The text came right before I was about to start staff training.  It said “Go do it.”  But to me it said so much more.  It said “You got this,” “You’re good at this,” “You are going to do great,” and “I have confidence in you.”  Encouragement doesn’t necessarily involve lots of words or lots of time.  But it does bring lots of good feelings, both for the one who is encouraged, and the one who is doing the encouraging.


On a personal note, I want to say thank you for your prayers and for the encouragement you send my way through the Prayer Team.  It is very encouraging to hear how many people include the Prayer Team as part of their everyday life.  Thank you.  Today is the final day of “go-to verses from the Bible.”    


Lord, thank You for Your many gifts.  Thank You for the people in my life who are encouragers (list their names).  Help me to encourage others as well.  Help me to be positive even in times of challenge.  Help me to see the good in people and not just the bad.  Help me to build up others rather than tear them down.  Speak into my mind and heart words of encouragement, so that my mouth can be used as a tool for encouragement and positive reinforcement.  Bring people around me who will encourage me as well.  Amen.


Go do it!  Go do it with God!  Make sure you encourage someone today!


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

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. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced multiple books, you can view here:


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