Encouraging others is work disciples can only do in community. Encouragement from others at just the right moment speaks volumes. It can mean the difference between giving up and knowing you’re okay. The receiver knows someone cares and feels that she matters. Just as Jesus encouraged Peter to walk on water, we also are called to encourage others to stretch beyond what they think they can do. Encouragement in the faith community is not just a pep talk: It is an affirmation and blessed assurance of what God can do in our lives.
The act of encouraging another places the encourager in the other’s shoes. A deep sensitivity for the other’s situation and circumstance is important, and you make a conscious decision to let your actions be guided by the Holy Spirit. Your words of encouragement have a two-fold effect—they are affirming for the other and faith-building for you.
This message is excerpted from “Lessons for today’s disciples,” a 2009 resource of the Women of the ELCA, written by Valora K. Starr. Today is the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany. Today we commemorate Thomas Aquinas, teacher, 1274.
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