The word "encourage" in French means "to put heart into." The word "discourage" means "to take heart out of." Most of us have had different people who have done both to us. What a blessing the encouragers are.
Throughout history, encouragers have made a difference for good. For example, Wellington is reported to have said that when Napoleon was on the field with his men, it was the equivalent of fighting another 40,000 men. The power of encouragement!
Think how Vince Lombardi turned the 12-year losing streak of the Green Bay Packers into a winning year every season of his nine-year tenure. The team won five NFL championships, including two Super Bowls. Frank Gifford said the team turnaround came not because of Lombardi's technical knowledge but because he was a motivator. The power of encouragement!
Or, think of June 1940, when France fell to Hitler. Germany began to make plans to invade the British Isles, and the prospect for a successful resistance looked bleak. The Soviet Union stood aside, and the United States was far from ready to go to war. Most military experts predicted England, poorly prepared and poorly armed, would topple within weeks.
But the experts hadn't taken the measure of a 65-year-old politician who had just been elected British prime minister. The remaining seven months of 1940 were a pivotal point in modern history. England, and perhaps the whole Western world, owes its existence to the ability of Winston Churchill to breathe hope into a dispirited nation. The power of encouragement!
The New Testament character of Barnabas opened my eyes to the importance of being an encourager. The disciples were apprehensive about accepting Paul as a true believer because he had been a persecutor of Christians. It was Barnabas who opened the door for Paul (Acts 9:27). When Barnabas was asked to lead the church in Antioch, he invited Paul to join him. The two of them took the first missionary journey. When Paul refused to take Mark on the second journey, Barnabas organized an alternate journey so that Mark could have a second chance.
Let's look at our own words and actions. Do we put heart into others or take heart out of others? There is power in both. Choose to be an encourager.
Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.