What Encouragement Looks Like and Sounds Like

What Encouragement Looks Like and Sounds Like

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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.

Everyone helps his neighbor, and says to his brother, “Take courage!”  The craftsman encourages the goldsmith, and he who smooths with the hammer him who strikes the anvil, saying of the soldering “It is good”; and they fasten it with nails so that it cannot be moved. Isaiah 41:6-7

There is no one who doesn’t respond to positive reinforcement.  There is no one who doesn’t like to hear “You’ve done well.”  On the other hand, most people do not respond well to negative reinforcement.  No one likes to hear “You did a bad job.”

Some people handle negative reinforcement better than others. For instance, when a coach tells a player “if you don’t play well today, you won’t be in the lineup tomorrow,” some people respond positively to pressure like that.  Most people, however, do not.  When the coach says “I believe in you, you are playing tomorrow even if it’s a bad game today,” then the player can relax.  And most athletes play better when they are relaxed.

For some, negative reinforcement is a turn off—they tend to write off the negative reinforcers.  However, there is virtually no one who turns off positive reinforcement.  It is something we all like and something really that we all need.

It’s amazing how powerful of a tool one’s mouth is.  The mouth can be used to build people up or tear them down.  Speaking personally, I know that I thrive on affirmation.  I don’t need a lot of it, nor do I need it constantly.  I do, however need it regularly.

Affirmation can come effectively in three ways.  First, affirm a person.  “You are doing a great job.”  “You are a talented secretary.”  “I wish all doctors were as friendly as you.”  It is important to say these things to those who work for us.  Because encouragement and affirmation inspire people to work even harder at what they do.

Secondly, affirm a relationship.  “You mean a lot to me.”  “I’m really glad that you are in my life.”  It is important that we say these things to those we care about.  Because encouragement and affirmation inspire relationships to get stronger.

And third, encourage even when the behavior is not what you wanted.  Instead of saying “You are wrong,” it’s more effective to say “I know you can do better, I still believe in you.”

Many people forget affirmation in relationships.  Saying “I love you” is certainly an affirmation, but affirming should go beyond that.  Many times in marriage, more than “I love you,” a spouse wants to hear “you are a great provider” or “you are a great mom/dad” or “I love coming home to you every night.”  In long-term friendships, many people forget to say things like “I really treasure our friendship.”  If that is a true statement in one of your friendship, why not say it?

Finally, we all do things wrong, and we all make mistakes.  When we affirm someone, even when they have made an error, we can correct without shattering someone’s confidence or tearing apart a relationship.  Affirming someone’s value while correcting them or even telling them you are disappointed is one of the most mature things a person can do.

Encouragement includes affirming those around us on a regular basis with thoughts that are positive and, in the case of a mistake, reassuring.

Lord, I begin this prayer by affirming Your importance in my life.  Thank You for creating the world I live in.  Thank You for giving me the talents I have.  Lord, direct my words so that they can be words of affirmation and encouragement.  Even when I’m disappointed with someone or something, help me learn to speak in ways that are still constructive and encouraging.  Help bring out the best in me.  Help me to bring out the best in others.  Amen.

Affirm someone today!

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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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, 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