If I had to choose between receiving a present or a card, I’d pick a card filled with words of encouragement! Fortunately, it’s very Australian to give both a card and a present during special occasions.
Encouraging words I’ve received from others have a special place in my memory bank. Proverbs 16:24 puts it this way, ‘Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones’. I think words are presents too! Maybe that’s why I like report writing.
Here are a few words of encouragement that have brought sweet healing to me these past weeks…
Girl 1: Do you want to have kids?
Me: I do!
Girl 2: You would make a good mother.
Girl 1: Yeah.
These girls from my class spend at least 24 hours with me each week. I’m thrilled they reckon I’ll make a good Mum. I hope I do!
Letter: You have taught me lots of things. You taught me to read a lot better. That is how you are a great teacher.
From a student who has been adamant in saying, ‘I’m a bad reader’, this means so much! Reading is still an uphill battle for her but now she’s up for the challenge and knows that she is capable of growing.
Note: I wish I could have you as my teacher for the rest of my school years.
Happy tears. (But maybe not to her benefit when she has to learn higher maths.)
Prayer point: Pray that your back gets better.
I asked my students to write down prayer requests, things that they want me to pray for, for them. I couldn’t help but smile when one boy wrote that he wants me to pray that my back gets better. He had three prayer points, all of them for other people.
On that note, it is more blessed to give than receive! So let me share with you how we can be better at giving words as presents to others.
Saying ‘thank you’ and ‘that was good’ is a great start but I feel it’s lacking when a speaker or friend really makes an impression on me. I want to be truly encouraging and give something more concrete than ‘that was good’.
Here are five ways we can add more weight to our words so that they can be gifts to others:
1. Be specific
If you are hoping to encourage a speaker, using specific language from their talk is gold. For example, in thanking a missionary who spoke at our assembly, a student wrote a thankyou note saying, ‘I really like how you said to step out of our comfort zone.’ The speaker mentioned this a few times and she would have been encouraged that this nine-year old remembered it.
If you want to use your words to encourage someone who inspires you through how they live, talk about something specific that they do. Does she always make time to catch up with people? Is he a really good listener, giving anyone he’s speaking with his full attention? Does she go about her tasks unhurried and sure, being an example of peace? Think about it and write a note or be prepared to say it!
2. Share how he/she challenged your thinking
It could be that you had a totally different perspective on an issue and hearing someone else’s thoughts has challenged it. Or you might never have even thought about a topic until that example the speaker gave. Share how grateful you are for this challenge or reminder.
3. Talk about one thing you might do or have already started because of him/her
If after reading this post you are encouraged to write thankyou notes or even just to be more specific in how you thank people, let me know! That’s one example. If someone inspired you to read a book, let her know. If someone, through his example, challenges you to speak more passionately and courageously, thank him and let him know his influence on you.
4. Ask a question
You show you are engaged in the conversation and that you have respect for the other person when you ask a question. This can of course be linked with the previous points on how your thinking has been challenged and how you might start doing something. Ask for further advice or clarify some points that made you think.
5. Be sincere
Mean what you say and do not compliment to get on someone’s good side. Flattery is for fools. Have nothing to do with it.
One of my Mom’s favourite verses is a fitting ending and I remember her excitement as she shared it to 8-year-old me, from Proverbs 25:11 –
‘Like apples of gold in settings of silver
Is a word spoken in right circumstances.’