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WIMD Pulse - September 2013

by Dorothy M. Barbo, MD

It wasn't until my mid-thirties that I recognized one of my mother’s spiritual gifts was encouragement. I was fortunate to grow up in a home with it. Many other children and adults received her encouragement over her 100 years of life. She patiently taught hundreds of children in school, piano, in Sunday School and in Bible School. In her famous neighborhood missionary club, she taught many children how to pray. She was a great listener and her words were backed up by much prayer. Often letters were mailed to those who were ill, lived away or were overseas.

Encouragement is giving hope to a person or teams. Some lack a sense of self-worth or fail to recognize their talents. Others are discouraged by circumstances or failures. Many fail to see the opportunities available. Positive feedback is in short supply in today's world. Media's message is too often negative. Encouragement is like putting wind in one's sails to move ahead. The popular song puts it as "the wind beneath my wings."

Scripture has many encouraging passages: "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word" (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, NIV 2011). Barnabas is recognized as the great encourager for the beginning of Paul's ministry. We are encouraged to encourage others in Hebrews, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today…’” (Hebrews 3:13, NIV 2011).

Each of us has daily opportunities to encourage others. A simple "thank you" recognizes help or good service. Telling others you appreciate their work or that it is done well is important. Positive feedback to students and residents is critical in building their confidence to learning and maturing. Unfortunately, in medical training we often spend too much time in critical critiquing. Folks would rather be working with positive people; they gravitate away from the negative ones. Christians ought to display happiness and hope.

So who will the Lord put in your path today or this week who needs encouragement? Will you recognize the opportunity God gives you? Ask the Lord to help you provide Christ-like wind for someone's sails.