encouragementIt’s always wise to evaluate and be honest with yourself about your areas of weakness. One of my weaknesses is encouragement. Thinking about how thankful I am for someone is much different than voicing it. At the end of 2013, I set out on a quest to increase my encouragement.

Using something that we all have at our fingertips, I developed a habit that has deeply impacted me and (as I’ve heard) even brought a few people to tears. It’s not revolutionary by any means, but it’s very practical. Ready for it? Here it is…

I set a daily reminder to myself to encourage someone.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.59.17 AMIn my Reminders app (that syncs across my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro), I set a recurring reminder that says, “Encourage someone today!” Simple. Every morning at 9am, I am reminded to brighten someone’s day through an encouraging word. I have most notifications turned off on my devices, but this is one that I get every day…and it’s been amazing!

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the last 4 months of encouragement…

Being intentional is important.

I set a reminder for myself because encouragement is important, and I forget easily. Proverbs says that “life and death are in the power of the tongue,” so I want to be intentional in using my words to speak life. I know that in order for me to be faithful with my encouragement of others, I have to remind myself to do so.

Being reminded doesn’t make it less special or encouraging.

One of the guys in the Army that I texted an encouraging message to a couple months back was deeply impacted. He texted back and said he had been praying that morning for encouragement, and my text was an answer to prayer and brought him to tears. Did you read that?! A text message that took me 17 seconds to type answered his prayers and made a grown military man cry! I didn’t preach a sermon. I don’t even know if I included a Bible verse (sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t).

Developing this habit encourages spontaneity.

The reminder ensures that I encourage someone at least once a day, but it doesn’t stop there. Now that I’ve been encouraging someone daily, doing it spontaneously throughout the day has become more natural. A reminder has developed into a habit which has become more natural and spontaneous.

Encouraging others encourages me.

We all know the joy of receiving encouragement from others. Giving encouragement is fun too. It’s such a joy to bring joy into the lives of others.

Setting a reminder keeps me on the lookout for things to encourage.

The first couple weeks of encouraging were easy – I sent texts and emails, made phone calls, and spoke to friends to encourage them. As time went by, and since I didn’t want to just encourage the same people all the time, I had to be on the lookout for new things and people to encourage. I try to go out of my way to notice what people are doing, where they’re serving, and how they’re living.

Some of the best encouragement is specific.

As I’m on the lookout for ways to encourage people, it reminds me to notice what’s going on in their lives and ministries. There’s nothing wrong with a simple “I’m praying for you,” but there’s something so meaningful about praising something specific (especially if it’s something they thought most people didn’t notice).

I’m definitely not trying to say I’m the most encouraging person you’ve ever met. I’m not. However, when I know a weakness in my life, I want to fight it. Looking back, I can say I’ve come a long way in this arena, and I look forward to continuing to use my words to build others up. I hope this encourages you to encourage others!