After our family participated in the service this past Sunday and were working through the questions after, a very significant thought came to mind. As we were going through the question of how others have encouraged us, I was immediately brought to my youth years. I was very new to the faith and trying to understand this new life I had entered into. God used a number of key people to help me in my walk but there was one person who shared with me some timely encouragement that changed the course of my life. His name was Doug and he was the Executive Director for Youth for Christ in Victoria and was putting a missions team together of young adults and older teens. He took me aside to share some well thought through words that really got me thinking. He shared how he saw strong leadership abilities in me and a real shepherd’s heart. I had never heard those words before so I didn’t know what to do with them. He then continued in his encouragement with Phil 1:6 that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. Lastly, he told me to pray about what he shared and how he encouraged me.
I have to say this encouragement was life changing. It started a journey for me that helped me identify key gifts and skills in my life and to intentionally develop them further. It was at that time, for the first time, that I felt God speaking into my life through other people. He was the first of many people in my life to do that and I am a pastor today because of the encouragement God gave me that day through Doug.
What about you? Have you had that kind of life changing encouragement? How did it feel to receive it? Have you ever given that kind of timely encouragement? Let me encourage you to be in prayer and see if God wants to use you to encourage someone very specifically with words that may be life changing for them. The encouragement may simply be words that will get them through a dark or challenging time. Both are so important and we may not know what those words will mean to those who receive them. We all need encouragement, but there are moments that God uses that encouragement to change our life’s trajectory forever!
Pastor Paul Olson