Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
I’m a big dreamer so I like to keep my goals in front of me and pursue them on a daily basis. In this past season, I’ve learned that if you’re going to live life like that you’ve got to keep some good people around you that are capable of encouraging you effectively.
I’m thankful for the people in my life that I can go to, to receive great encouragement. One of those people for me has become Banning Liebscher.
We’ve not known each other for very long and I could not say that we’re best buds or anything, but each time that I interact with Banning, I leave feeling encouraged. And there’s a few reasons for that I think.
In this post, I’m going to outline those reasons and give you a working model to use so that you can receive encouragement more effectively in your life.
We all need encouragement. But, where do we go to find it?
This is an important step in the process of receiving encouragement.
Have you ever shared your struggle with someone hoping that they might cheer you up and spur you on? But instead, you walked away feeling lonely and misunderstood?
The unfortunate truth is, not everyone is equipped to encourage you effectively.
When needing and looking for encouragement, here are a few guidelines—
1. Find someone that has experience in the area of your life that you’re currently feeling discouraged by.
For me personally, I find that I receive great encouragement from other pastors. Especially other lead pastors.
It’s easier for me to be vulnerable with them because I know they’re capable of empathizing with me. I also know that any feedback they give me is going to come battle tested by life in the ministry.
Friends and family can make great sounding boards. Sometimes, all we need to do is just talk our problems out. However, the most effective encouragement often comes from people that have had similar experiences as you.
2. Make sure they care about what you care about.
This is a big one. You want to make sure that the people you’re receiving encouragement from actually care about what you care about.
They may have had some similar experiences as you in their past, but they may not care anything about the subject matter that is currently causing you to feel discouraged. When that’s the case, the feedback you receive will likely be tainted by negativity.
For instance, as a pastor, I’ve found that I do not need to look for encouragement from people that do not share my values for the local church.
I’ve tried to do this, but unfortunately, I always leave those conversations feeling more discouraged than when I arrived.
People that do not care anything about what you care about are rarely equipped to encourage you effectively.
3. Do you respect them enough to allow them to correct you?
About a year or so ago, my wife and I flew out to Sacramento to meet with Banning Liebscher for the first time. Over lunch, he challenged us in the best way.
We started the conversation by sharing about our church in Nashville and some of our most recent discouragements.
He helped us to pick apart some faulty mindsets that we were operating from and spoke directly to me concerning my need to grow as a leader.
You wouldn’t think that having someone tell you that you were not as strong as you thought were would be encouraging. But, that’s exactly what happened. Instead of being hurt, I was extremely encouraged!
Banning is someone that I’ve always looked up to and admired for a long time. And because of that, it’s easy to allow him to call me out on my weaknesses. I respect him enough to give him that permission.
If he wanted to, he could tell me that I was doing a bad job and I could receive it, despite it being painful to hear. Because of that permission, when he tells me that I’m doing a good job, it’s all the more empowering to me.
If no one can correct you, you’re not only missing out on an opportunity to grow, but to also be greatly encouraged!
4. Engage encouragement.
We should never just receive encouragement and then do nothing with it. We must put it to work for us! We must engage it.
There are several ways that you can do this.
One of them being, you could write down your most recent encouragements. Then, use them as statements against the enemies of your positivity and confidence.
Even if you don’t want to write them down, try to be mindful enough to remember when you last felt a renewed sense of hope and encouragement. That way, when you’re tempted to get down on yourself, you can think back to what encouraged you last, and use that as a weapon to fight off negativity.
This especially helps when you’re tired. Fatigue is one of the most common contributors to discouragement. When you’re exhausted and stressed, recall moments of encouragement. This will boost your self esteem and help you stay focused and on track with your goals.
Lastly, remember to take all of the encouragement that you receive back to God in prayer.
When we do this, we keep ourselves from an unhealthy codependence on others for stability. God is our source and He wants to be the first Person that we seek in times of discouragement.
The moral of the story—we all need encouragement. So, give yourself permission to receive it effectively from the right people.