Acts 4:36-37 There was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. 37 He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles. (NLT)
Everyone needs to be encouraged. I believe that different experiences and responsibilities in life require different levels of encouragement. Leaders and those involved in helping others certainly need an “attaboy” on occasion. I am writing from this perspective. The goal of this article is to encourage you to be an encourager to someone else, on any and all of these three levels.
The back patter.
This is your unofficial nice guy who takes time to say positive things and give compliments when warranted. A “nice job” or “thank you” goes a long way to someone who is in the trenches. The back patters are important players in the leadership game. Never assume that people know how you feel. If they have done well, commend them. But please be sincere. Most of us can tell when people are blowing smoke or being disingenuous. Don’t cheapen the gift of encouragement by throwing compliments around. Sincerely express your encouragement. It will go a long way. A pat on the back may be just what your leader needs today.
The load bearer.
The next level of encourager goes beyond words. He or she believes in you and the vision enough to actually get their hands dirty helping you. When the weight is too heavy to bear, these second-level encouragers come alongside you and make your job easier. Never underestimate the value of a strong back. You notice when they show up – the atmosphere improves. You are glad they are involved. Load bearers may be not be long-term contributors but the time they spend pitching in makes a big difference.
I’m having a difficult time labeling the third level of encourager. The partner? No, too many cultural considerations. The sidekick? Too condescending. The colleague? Too academic. Just allow me to explain: This third level encourager is part of you. You couldn’t shake them if you wanted to. This person may be a spouse or a relative but for sure they are committed to you. Thick or thin, success or failure – they’re there. If you get into a fight, they’ve got your back. If your integrity is questioned – they defend you. They give you the benefit of the doubt. They know you are not perfect but they are committed to you anyway. And this relationship is a two-way street – you serve as a third-level encourager to them as well. I believe that this level of encourager only comes around a few times in one’s life. They are not there to see what they can get from you. You can trust them to have your best interest at heart. A word of warning: you shouldn’t try to be this level of encourager for many people. It just won’t work, we are not built with the capacity to function like this for very many people. This level of encourager is a rare treasure. If and when it happens, value it.
I am grateful to have all three levels of encouragers in my life. To them I say, “Thank you!” I literally could not do what I do without you. I hope I am involved in encouraging others on all three levels.
Be an encourager on all three levels. Someone you know could really use the pick up.
Let’s let Barnabas be our encourager. He was so good at it that they gave him the nickname. His place seemed to be as a genuine revitalizer for others. He made their world a better place. He picked them up and encouraged them to press on. I hope I can do that for you – on some level. And I am hoping for the same from you.