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”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection, and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Acts 2:1-8
We constantly here about how diverse the world is. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all in just about anything in life, including encouragement. Diverse people and diverse situations require diverse forms of encouragement.
One of the best books I have ever read is called “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. This is a great book for marriages and relationships in general and also good for self-awareness. Dr. Chapman’s thesis is that there are five love languages—words of affirmation, quality time, giving gifts, acts of service and physical touch—and each person has one of them as their primary love language. The person to whom we are married may or may not have the same language and the book details the nuances of each language, so that if two spouses “speak different love languages,” they can learn the things that best serve the needs and language of the other. If you are married, I highly recommend this book.
Using this idea of different languages of love, there are also different languages for encouragement. Some people respond well to verbal affirmation. Some people actually need and thrive on it. In some way we all need verbal affirmation, though some more than others. So, we encourage through affirmation.
We encourage through spending time with others. When we are sad, sometimes we don’t need words of comfort. It is enough for someone to just “be present” with us, even if few words are said. In learning how to be an encourager, sometimes we don’t need to use words. Being a good listener, or just being patient while being present is encouraging.
Everyone enjoys getting gifts. The gift of encouragement is one that doesn’t cost any money, we don’t have to shop for it, we don’t have to wrap it and we don’t have to wait for a birthday or Christmas to give it. Encouragement is a gift that anyone can give to anyone at any time. Writing an encouraging letter to someone is a great gift. Because an encouraging comment is said and may be forgotten, but an encouraging letter is something one can read over and over again.
To encourage is not only to say things but to do things. So acts of service are also a form of encouragement. When someone does something for us, we feel uplifted. And the doing doesn’t have to involve a lot of money. Someone who holds a door open, or helps carry groceries, or who passes on an edifying article via email, these are all examples of acts of service that are encouraging.
And physical touch is encouraging. Athletes of all ages high-five and fist bump. Hugs and pats on the back are good too. Looking someone in the eye when you are talking to them shows sincerity. A smile is encouraging. And sitting close to someone who is having a hard time shows concern. Obviously, there is a time and an appropriateness for this language that we have to keep in mind.
Today’s Scripture passage from Acts is the account of Pentecost. This was the day that the Holy Spirit descended onto the Apostles and empowered them to speak in all the languages of the world. People were amazed to hear the Gospel in their own language. They were also comforted. The words of the Gospel were no longer a foreign tongue but one that was familiar.
For many people, encouragement is just as foreign as a foreign language. They don’t get enough encouragement, or they don’t get it in a language that they can understand or appreciate. Because maybe a person who needs affirmation has plenty of people present who never say anything. Or the person who needs people present gets text messages of encouragement but doesn’t have someone to sit and patiently listen. Each of us needs encouragement and each of us will prefer a different way to receive it. Therefore it is important for each of us to learn various “languages” of encouragement so that those around us can hear and benefit from encouragement in “their own language.”
Lord, show me today how I can encourage others. Help me to speak different languages of encouragement to people—to my family, to my friends, to total strangers. Help me be a voice of positivity and compassion. Give me opportunities to encourage others. Bring people who need encouragement into my path today. May my encouragement help someone today and may it always glorify You. Amen.
Just as some people are young and some are old, some are strong in personality and in faith and others aren’t, the diversity in personalities, talents and life stories merits a need for diversity in encouragement.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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