ENCOURAGEMENT - Want To Make A Real Difference In The World? Encourage People

two people encouraging one another

My Story

I struggle greatly with personal confidence, especially around my intelligence.

When I was 14 I was told that I was not clever enough to learn German, and was put into the bottom curriculum for French.

When I was 15 I was told that I was not clever enough to study Geography, and was put into the bottom curriculum for a combination of History and Geography.

When I was 16 I was told that I was not clever enough to study Physics (I have always been fascinated by cosmology) and was told to pursue other subjects.

Combinations of remarks and feedback from teachers and others left me feeling that the intellectual pursuits were out of my reach. It wasn’t until after I finished full time education that several people began to encourage me about the way that I thought.

I am slowly starting to build my confidence up, and have realised that I love using my mind. I love tackling challenging subjects and expanding my knowledge. If these few people hadn’t started to encourage me I wouldn’t be writing this blog, or doing many of the other things that I enjoy doing.

Since this encouragement I have gone on to take courses on HTML & CSS, Public Speaking, Philosophy, Economics, Learning and Development and others. I have written courses on Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint; Leadership, Change Management, Creativity and Innovation. And give talks about complexity within economics, biblical exegesis, philosophy, theology and the fourth industrial revolution.

I am not saying this to imply that I am clever, rather that I know now that I am not a stupid as I once thought.

Tall Poppy Syndrome

scissors cutting a tall poppy
I hope the introduction helps you to realise that people are not as confident as you think they are. Sure there are those few people who believe they are God’s gift to the earth. But most people you meet are hurting and broken. They are just attempting to recover from the last blow they’ve been dealt. To get back up from the latest hit to their confidence.

We seem to have this idea that if we encourage people, that if we say nice things to them, then they will develop a heightened sense of self. That they will become “arrogant”.

We take it on ourselves to ensure this doesn’t happen by putting them in their place.

This is called the Tall Poppy Syndrome. The poppy that grows taller than the others will steal the light, thus it must be cut down.

The nail that sticks out must be hammered down.

I see this every day in small comments and subtle ways. Many people genuinely struggle with encouraging anybody.

Enter Barnabas – the son of encouragement.

Barnabas was a companion of the apostle Paul.

His true name was “Joses” but he was called Barnabas (literally meaning ‘son of encouragement’) due to how encouraging he was (Acts 4:36).

In the book of acts it records that wherever Barnabas went he encouraged the believers (Acts 1:23).

Encouraging other people doesn’t sound as glamorous as fighting evil corporations, or planting churches, or starting homeless shelters. But it is a decision that we can make daily that makes a real tangible difference.

Encourage People

A mint leaf encouraging you
Someone once said that the reason that we have the problems we have in this world is because we are meant to love people and use things, but we are in a mess because we use people and love things. Let us get back to loving people.

Let us encourage people so that they can begin to see all the good that they can do in this world.

Let us encourage people so that they can begin to see the potential that lies within them; the hidden talents that exist within their being.

Please know that when I speak of encouraging I am not talking about lying. You don’t have to say that someone is good at something if they are not. Rather I am saying that we are each made in the image of God, therefore each of us have the ability to reflect God, in all of His beauty and creativity and wisdom.

Let us call this out of others through our encouragement.

May we analyse the words that we speak to others. May we overcome our propensity for the tall poppy syndrome. And may we encourage others to see the hidden things inside and share them with the world.

Have you had a moment where someone has encouraged you and helped make a real difference in your life? Let me know in the comments.


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