Encouragement Paid Forward

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My wife is a great note giver. For years she’s included a note or prayer in the kid’s lunch, in the luggage of a traveling family member or on a counter-top white board. Her diligence in this area spurred me on to express words of encouragement to my kids in similar ways. Shuffling though the Bible to find a relevant passage to leave with the kids before I left for work was one way I tried to encourage them in their daily activities.

There are a few men in my life that are true Barnabas’ to me, i.e., encouraging men. Many times their encouraging words have been so timely in their delivery that they were obviously God-inspired. And, at the risk of sounding boastful, I am often encouraging other men with verses I’ve read, thoughts I’ve had or promptings of prayer for their lives. I used to wonder why more men didn’t return the “favor”. Truth is, most men are not prone to be engaged with other men at a level that would lead to these more intimate kinds of self-disclosure. DNA is certainly a factor. We’re guys! My encouragement has had to come from a sheer desire to encourage, not because I was going to get something in return.

Being a male presents challenges when it comes to communicating words that encourage or build up our children. In our home, I can honestly say my wife is much more adept at it than I am. However, those times that I took a few moments to write a note on our family white-board, leave a voice mail or text message of encouragement to jackies-notesone of my children is paying off. Of course, that isn’t why I did them. But, payback is sure sweet! My 17 yr old daughter, Jaclyn, recently left this note in my packed shaving kit for a trip:

Hey Daddy! I’ll be praying for your flight and drive. I can’t wait until I see you again on Sunday. Have a blast & say “hey” to Gramps for me J. I’ll def be praying for your conversation with him & that God might soften his heart. Remember, just like God eventually softened Pharaoh’s heart, God can soften Grandpa’s heart. No task is too small for such a huge God J. Love you much. Jackaroo

Then, yesterday, I got this text message from my 20 yr old son, Bryan:

Hey Dad, just wanted to say hope you’re doing well today! Remember to take every thought captive, and make it obedient to Christ. I love you.

Can you see my chest extended about 1 ½ feet further than normal? Some of you aren’t easily moved to writing a note and putting it into a lunch box. But most of you can send a text message. Some of you can “twitter”. You can email, blog, direct message, IM, Facebook or My Space a message or simply go into their room right now with a word they need to hear. It might be a verse of truth from the Scriptures or a lesson you’ve recently learned that you can share with them. Or, it might just be, “I’m proud of you” or “I love you”. Don’t do it simply in expectation of hearing it in return. Because you might not. But….you might. You might be paid forward for encouragement you give today. More importantly, your kids (and other buddies ;)) will remember those short, sweet words spoken in love by a man that cared. It might just be the catalyst they need to take a big step in becoming the man or woman God created them to be.

SOUND OFF: When did you receive a word of encouragement that was salve to your soul? Describe or share a time when you shared a short word of love to your child and what impact did it have on them and you?

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