Encouragement: The Key to Freedom and Hope

I believe you cannot encourage a person too much. You might mislead them by false words of so-called encouragement but you cannot over encourage a person with honest and loving words. I thought about this last week when my 13-year old granddaughter was playing in a soccer tournament that included three games on a windy, cold Saturday (May 28). Her team has been pretty successful over the years but recently has met with some discouragement and a few defeats.

As I watched these 13-14 year old girls play hard I also watched them fail to move the ball down the field and get shots on their opponent’s goal. Finally, late in the second half trailing 2-0, a hard, strong, straight kick was made on the opponent’s goal but it sailed quite high. The coach gave what we call a “Bronx Cheer.” It was insincere and even cynical. She was frustrated and took it out on her team. I was embarrassed and annoyed. I knew right there and then that this was not a good coach and thus I understood why this talented team was underperforming.

I played several sports as a teen. I was never great at any of them though I understood them all very well. I still believe I can coach but I was not a great athlete. One thing stands out in my experience of playing and coaching. The coach who yelled at me and put me down made me play much worse. The coach who encouraged me and taught me got the most that he could out of me. I think there is a parable in this about life in general.

The late John Wooden, probably one of the greatest coaches ever, once said that his key to success was to “find a player doing something right and tell him.” I have always felt this was the way to motivate. I know yelling at some players can help them in some cases but most of the time a true coach finds a better way to lead their team.

Barnabas was a good brother who encouraged believers. I have always felt the church could never get enough encouragement. I resolved long ago to attempt to be the best Barnabas that I could be. I try to find people doing the right thing and tell them as faithfully as I know how. Try it. You will find it works to lift up others and help them grow in whatever it is they are attempting to do in life.

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