3 Sure-Fire Ways To Encourage Someone


The Greek verb “to encourage” means “to come alongside.”  It’s what we do when a car battery gets depleted.  Someone literally pulls alongside and gives us a jump, infusing our weak battery with energy from their functioning one.  They connect with us in a way that restores the battery’s capacity to do its job.  The ministry of encouragement is giving folks a jump when stressors or setbacks have drained their batteries.

Here are 3 effective ways to infuse others with strength.

1. Write a hand-written letter of affirmation.

Slide the letter into an envelope and mail it.  Don’t type it or email it or give it to them in person.  There’s something about receiving a positive note in the mail that enhances the element of surprise and embellishes the joy.

In 25 Ways To Win with People, John Maxwell says that hand-written encouragement eclipses even the power of verbal face-to-face compliments.  Here’s his research-backed remark:  “When a word of encouragement is written down for another person, it is often perceived to be more genuine than when it is spoken.”  Perhaps the rarity of a hand-written note in this era of social media explains its emotional impact.

Select one of these ways to start your letter:

I thank God for you because…

I’m glad you’re my wife (husband) because…

You’ve ministered to me in the following ways:

I see that God’s Spirit has cultivated the following traits in you:

Be specific, and include anecdotes in your letter.

2. Compliment the person in front of others.

A private compliment, said in public, instantly increases in value.

Years ago, my senior pastor took a couple minutes before his sermon to praise recent renovations in our adult Sunday School agency.  I served as the Christian Education Director.  He complimented me by name for the diligence and originality behind the changes.  That unexpected public affirmation earned him capital in my mind that lasted for years.  That was a pastor I wanted to keep pleasing!

Save a compliment for your spouse for when the kids are within earshot, or when you’re eating out with friends.

Mention a child’s positive trait or accomplishment when you’re introducing him or her to a friend.

Praise a recent initiative by an associate when you’re in a staff meeting, not just when you’re meeting one-on-one.

Think of things you can spotlight about a person in front of others.  Admonish in private, but praise in public.

3. Let a person know when you’ve prayed for him or her.

Tell Chuck that you interceded for him and his kids on the anniversary of his wife’s death.  Inform Leland that you’re praying for him weekly until he finds a job.  Let Susan know that you’ve asked the Lord to guide her doctors in diagnosing her symptoms.

My predecessor as Christian Education faculty at Columbia International University understood the pressures and adjustments of a first-year faculty member.  Near the end of my first year she wrote a two-page prayer to God, teeming with specific requests for me, and mailed it to me.  She didn’t address a single word to me, but her encouragement was like oxygen to a soul short of breath.

What other heart-massaging forms of encouragement have you either received or given?