Negative language breeds negative thinking, insecurity and low self-esteem. Many of us will grow up believing that there is a marker, a measure of sorts that is considered right or normal and we fall short of it. Those standards could be specific to our family, community or universally applicable.
There is such pressure to fit in and be like other people. How can we help one another to become all we can be? In seeking to promote healthy self-esteem in ourselves and in others, one of the best ways is to speak positive, encouraging, life-affirming words instead of the negative. Words have tremendous power to lift, heal, restore and refresh a life.

“Gracious speech is like clover honey – good taste to the soul, quick energy to the body” ~ Proverbs 16:24

To encourage others literally means to pour courage in, inspire with spirit and hope, build up, spur on, promote, cherish and sustain them by words and deeds.

There is a reciprocal trust involved in encouragementWe have to trust that we have the individual’s best interests at heart and the wisdom to say or do the appropriate thing. Their part is to trust us to be genuine and respectful of where they are at emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Our hearts need to be wise, tender and gentle.

Sensitivity is required to know what to say and when to say it. Encouragement doesn’t mean falseness or flattery. It can include constructive criticism if it enables and equips rather than tearing down or destroying.

“Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise” ~ Proverbs 12:18 

I have benefited hugely from the positive reinforcement of encouragement from others when a word in due season meant the difference between giving up or pressing on – particularly with any new enterprise, such as this blog was only a few months ago!

Sometimes we are good at offering encouragement yet fail to receive it as we should. Our upbringing may have ill-prepared us to believe good things that are said about us. Mine made the receiving of compliments hard to accept and faults and failings easy to believe. We can carry a burden of worry, anxiety, or low self-esteem that weighs our hearts down.

“Worry weighs us down, a cheerful word picks us up” ~ Proverbs 12:25

One man who is on a mission to spread the word about the power of positive reinforcement through encouraging words and deeds is James Prescott. For, as he says:

“Only when each of us take the risk of opening ourselves to encouragement, can we allow the power of encouragement to be accepted” ~ James Prescott in ‘5 Steps To Encouragement – A Manifesto for Changing the World’

Although we all have to recognise our limitations. Like many, I am unable to carry out much physical activity due to health problems, but I can always do this:

  • Send a message – tweet, Facebook post, text
  • Write an e-mail, card, letter, note
  • Speak a loving and encouraging word
  • Pray for others as needs arise
  • Hold them and their situations before God in my heart

Whatever is in our power to do to bless and feed another’s soul, that we can do.

“Your encouragement becomes grace that is strengthening, enabling and empowering for others. This is the ministry God will call you to today” ~ Joni Eareckson Tada ‘Daily Devotionals’

Let’s not delay. No time like the present.

As James says:

“Keep looking for opportunities. Keep stepping out and encouraging people. Make encouragement a habit…We must have our eyes open to the needs of those around us”

We can start by reading this excellent Free resource he has written. You can get your copy of the ‘5 Steps to Encouragement’ Manifesto on James’ blog.

I’d love to hear how you are implementing encouragement in your own life and how being on the receiving end of encouragement has blessed you.

In this post I am linking up with Missional Women Faith-filled Friday.