When encouragement from others is lacking, we can encourage ourself by observing others, then ask God to help us to be like the people we admire.
Hello everyone and welcome to today’s show, episode 90. Do you remember the last time someone encouraged you and how good that felt? Do you remember how it motivated you to keep doing whatever it was that prompted another person to take notice of what you did and tell you about it?
Hopefully, it wasn’t too long ago. But for some of us, encouragement from others is as rare as your child asking for more vegetables at dinner. We may not even remember the last time it happened. What are we to do then?
Keep listening as today’s show is about how we can encourage ourself when we don’t get it from other people.
In last week’s program, episode 89, “How to Be a Better Observer of People,” we talked about the ORA principle of deepening relationships. Observing. Remembering. Asking. We focused specifically on observing.
Today I want to talk about another benefit of being a keen observer of people. Besides helping us to understand others and relate with them more deeply, observing others and how they move through life is a great way for us to encourage ourself. I’ve got a number of examples I want to share with you today of how I was encouraged by listener responses to recent episodes of the podcast.
As you hear excerpts from what your fellow listeners have to say, I think you will be encouraged too.
The Christmas Story
The first one comes from a listener in Pennsylvania who wrote in response to episode 84 “The Christmas Story”, on December 25th.
This morning, I listened to your Christmas Day podcast gift….matter of fact, I listened to it twice. Thank you. The choice of passage really spoke to me and helped put me into a better frame of mind for this season. Thank you for this gift.
This listener’s response encouraged me to think about how I can change my frame of mind when it needs changing. I don’t have to stay stuck. I can do what he did, namely, listen to or read a passage of scripture, maybe even twice like he did. This encourages me. I hope it encourages you.
Finding Joy at the end of 2020
The second listener response was to episode 85, “Finding Joy at the End of 2020”, on Dec. 30th. It’s from Marcy, a missionary serving in Brazil who wrote:
I can certainly identify with “joy along with sadness” this Christmas holiday season. I really appreciated your emphasis on choosing to have joy even while not minimizing so many who also experience pain during the holidays. As children of God we are “created in His image “ -which gives us the power to choose. Yes -“power” because we are not victims of our pain, nor our circumstances, no matter how challenging. We can turn to God. His “mercies are new every morning. Thank you for your message of HOPE.
Observing how Marcy can find joy even in the middle of sadness encourages me. She says we don’t have to live like victims, because we can turn to God when bad stuff happens to us. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes like playing the victim card. Because when I’m a victim, nothing is my fault and I don’t have to change. Nothing is required of me.
Her comments encourage me to realize I don’t have to feel like a victim. That I can choose to turn to God for help when things don’t go my way. And you know, you can, too.
Live out a theme for yourself for the rest of 2021
Then there’s the note I got in the mail on January 2nd from Randy, a listener in Pittsburgh. He wrote
I am so glad you are doing this podcast …it’s an ongoing encouragement in how to care for and love others. In my daily devotional that I read from John Eldridge, I was encouraged to ask God for a theme to live out 2021….within minutes I looked at our Christmas tree and saw the wood ornament “Hope.”…the only large letter ornament on our tree…It’s God’s gift of encouragement to be hopeful in the coming year and to live with hope…seems well-suited for me in 2021!
Noticing how Randy picked a theme to live out this year, encourages me to do the same. It's an example of how we can encourage ourself by observing how others view life. Randy selected “living with hope this year.” Hmmn. I think I’ll pick, “Look for the joy.” I’d like to be a little more like Randy. How about you? Is there a theme you can live out in 2021?
Speaking of joy, Linda from North Carolina responded to episode 86, “How to Begin the Year with Joy,” on January 6th. She wrote:
It’s amazing to me how important we are in each others’ lives. We can actually sustain someone through our written words of encouragement, through our voice in a song or poem, through a fresh-baked pie or pot of soup, through our prayers on their behalf. I’m excited to trust our All-Creator God to help me be alert in this new year to sustain others in creative, simple ways.
I think you could do a whole session, John on passing on 2nd hand praise. I recently wrote a couple in my daughter and son in law’s church who have been so supportive to them in the home going of my daughter’s mother in law. Throughout our Christmas time together, my daughter shared several ways they’d been helped by this couple. So yesterday I wrote them myself thanking them for the way they had encouraged my kids by their kindness. We never know how a small seed of appreciation, passed on in that way can bear much fruit. All it takes is keen ears to catch it initially and then diligence to follow through letting the first person know the impact of their thoughtfulness. I love being that kind of link, don’t you?
Linda’s comments really encouraged me to do what she does, All it takes is keen ears to catch it [the kindness of others] initially and then diligence to follow through letting the first person know the impact of their thoughtfulness. What a great way to make a difference in the world. Observing how Linda lives life encourages me to be a little more like her. Her comments show me we can encourage ourself by observing others. This will work for you, too.
Stepping into people’s lives
Another person I’m encouraged to be more like is Josephine, the missionary from Eastern Europe I interviewed in episode 83, “The Best Christmas Gift – Be with People in Community,” right before Christmas on December 23rd. She’s also a listener to the podcast and wrote to thank me for having her on the show, and then said that the episode
…caused me to reflect even more on a key element of the Christmas story- Jesus stepping into our world as the light of the world, just as I, on an incomparable smaller scale, stepped into theirs [i.e., those musicians she mentioned she developed a relationship with who honored her by wanting to know about the real Christmas story] and was able to share pieces of truth with them. May he in his grace help us to be open, bold, and sensitive to opportunities like this!
If you missed that episode, find the time to go back and listen to it. I’ll have a link to it in the show notes, no. 83 on December 23, 2020, “The Best Christmas Gift – Be with People in Community.“
Hearing how Josephine is still reflecting on the Christmas story and how it motivates her to be open, bold, and sensitive to opportunities to enter into the lives of others, encourages me to do the same. I need to be a little more like Josephine. Does observing how Josephine lives encourage you?
Carol thinks we need to have her back on the podcast. I agree!
A different kind of New Year's resolution
Finally, I have two other responses from listeners about episode 087, “Make it a Relational New Year’s Resolution” from January 13th.
Jennifer, from South Carolina, wrote I loved your thank you note goal idea for 2021! I will work on this… And this from Libby, another listener:
Hi John, I loved your idea about collecting “Thank You” notes, but I really like the idea of remembering to do things for others that will prompt the response. I also appreciated your podcasts about joy. I needed them.
Remember the “Thank you note” idea? Do something for people that causes them to write you a thank you note. See how many you can get this year.
Noticing how these two listeners reacted to that idea encourages me to be even more intentional about it myself. And I’m glad they got the point, that it’s not the thank you note itself that’s the goal, it’s doing something so meaningful that it motivates someone to express their appreciation in writing. That’s the point. I’m encouraged to follow Jennifer and Libby’s lead because I know it will bring out the best in me. It will do the same for you, too.
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode.
When encouragement from others is hard to come by, we can encourage ourself by observing others. And then ask God to help us be more like the people we watch and admire.
Here are a few ideas for how we can apply today's episode to our own relationships?
Look around and start watching for people who display virtue in how they think and behave. People close to you, as well as complete strangers. What qualities do you admire in them? Which of their virtues would you like to take on as your own?
It starts by observing. Look for the good people. The kind people. Take notice of others like those mentioned in today’s episode. You can be like them. You really can. But you can’t do it on your own. You need God’s help. Ask Jesus to show you how you can be more like the people you respect and admire.
Then you will become more the person God intends for you to be. You were made for this.
As always, another thing you could do is let me and your fellow listeners know what resonated with you about today’s episode. Just like those you heard about today. It’s bound to encourage others.
You can put your thoughts in an email and send them to me, email@example.com. Or you can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
That’s all for today. See you next week. Goodbye for now.
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