Posted by: Ety W. | May 11, 2008

How Not to Encourage Your Friends and Family

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I am not the sort of person that others would peg as an encourager. I have been told that I speak my mind too often and that I am too blunt when I do so. Not that I am deliberately being critical, but that is how I am sometimes perceived by others. I was first able to identify this in myself about 18 years ago, when I took a MasterLife class. It was then that I set about to try and be an encourager rather than a discourager.

From that time onward, I made every effort to look for things to compliment others on: hair, clothes, family, etc. When they were discouraged, I was always ready with my “things could be worse” speech. I made a conscious effort toward this for several years. After awhile however, I realized that people would usually react in one of two ways. Either I only served to puff up their egos (not a goal of Scripture), or they became suspicious of me, wondering what I wanted (not a goal of mine). Eventually I became discouraged with myself and my efforts.

What I’m trying to get to is Titus 2:4. In verses two and three, we looked at older women as leaders, examining the leadership qualifications one by one. In verses four and five, we will look at what these women are to lead in.

…. that they may encourage (teach, KJV) the young women…. Titus 2:4 (NASB)

Encourage – Strong’s 4994 – σωφρονιζω – sophronizo = to make of sound mind, i.e. to discipline or correct. Teach to be sober. Zodhiates elaborates, “To discipline, train to think and act soberly, discreetly, and in moderation. To correct, to teach”.

What I see here, is that biblical encouragement is not trying to make someone feel better about themselves or their circumstances. It’s not warm fuzzies and atta boy speeches. Nor is it simply imparting knowledge by telling others what to do and how to do it. The goal of encouragement is a changed life.

I will be the first one to confess that I don’t have a handle on how to do this. In the classes I’ve taught, I have thought about it frequently. There are two verses of scripture which I have found myself contemplating:

Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds… Heb. 10:24 (NASB)

….. speaking the truth in love…… Eph. 4:15a (NASB)

From these, I have realized that I need to commit everything to prayer, from lesson preparation to delivery. And especially for the class participants themselves. I pray that it is not my opinions that will stick to their souls, but only God’s truth. In a One-to-One situation, I am learning that I must exhibit respect and a genuine caring for the person I’m speaking with. I must be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and how God would have me encourage her.

The list of things in Titus 2:4 and 5 that older women are to encourage young women in, are not all easy things:

…. encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. Titus 2:4-5 (NASB)

Some of these are things that human nature is naturally resistant to. Because of that, I think it is imperative that women see their husbands and children as ministry. True, this sort of ministry isn’t as glamorous as having a recognized position in the church, but as we will see in these verses, it is something that the Lord Himself has given us. An important part of that ministry is to our children, because Christian mothers are supposed to model biblical womanhood to them, to boys as well as girls. This is a very powerful position, because by it, mothers shape the next generation.

Next time, we’ll take a look at the first thing on the list, loving our husbands. Content copyright 2008 by If you find it anywhere else, it’s been stolen.
1 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, 1992), p.1362

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