Anatomy of Encouragement

Luke 18:17   I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Over the Thanksgiving weekend we gathered for our annual Shaw family photo.  As the family grows – this is no small feat.  In fact, when you look at the picture and see everyone’s big smile, you will have no idea how much time has gone into capturing that one moment. There were likely blinks, tears, frustration, laughs and distractions before the perfect pose was captured.  While awaiting the “photo shoot”  I  was reminded of God’s call for us to encourage one another.  This reminder came as I watched a situation unfold between two of my grandchildren.  It began with a pout.  I believe the snapshot of this pout will say more about my granddaughter’s attitude than words can tell.  (I will refer to my grandchildren by the number in their birth order.)  # 3 was not feeling particularly encouraged about the upcoming photo shoot.  Can you relate?  I can.  When we don’t want do something we can often keep our expression from showing our displeasure…but the inside of our heart reveals a pout similar to this.

We all get stuck at times and need others to encourage us.  Often crucial, however, to our “getting happy” is for someone to notice and to care enough to speak with us when we need some attitudinal adjustment  – and accompanying encouragement to move forward in a positive way.  This is where #4 came into the picture.  He loves his cousin and was genuinely concerned with her unhappiness.  So, he went to her and spoke with her.  Hebrews 3:13

    But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

While #3 is too little to sin…she was still softened in her heart and attitude by some words (I didn’t hear what he said to her but it helped a lot) from her little cousin.

I reflected on how much I can grow to be more alert  to another person’s discouragement, unhappiness or bitterness that can lead to hardness of heart.   I know for me it begins with taking the time to consider others above myself.  Philip. 2:3

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Most often, intentions are good….but busyness can blind me to things that are going on in others’ lives.

It takes time and thought to consider.  May I always be more like my grandchildren…noticing… and taking considered action to encourage – as well as being quick to respond to encouragement given.

Hebrews 10:24

    And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

After the “encouragement encounter”….#3 was immediately ready to go. 

(thanks to Vanessa Embling for all the photos)

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