Thursday, June 11, 2015

On Being an Encourager

 Last week, our Bible Study began with the question, "when have you been deceived by someone?"  Talk about a downer.  We dredged up old hurts -- it seems the teen years were particularly fraught with liars and cheats -- and tried to pretend we were over them.  Since we could all remember so clearly the circumstances of our betrayals, I'd suggest we weren't over them at all!  Since we were studying the days leading up to Jesus' betrayal at the hands of Judas, the question made sense,  but really, what a way to ruin the day!

    So, I decided to ask the opposite question.  "When have you been encouraged?"  Immediately, I felt better.  It seems I haven't forgotten those occasions either.  I remembered the teacher who told me I could pass geometry if I set my mind to it.  I recalled the camp counsellor who told me I could be a leader and I recollected the vocal coach who set high standards then showed me how to reach them.

   Just this past month, I've self-published two out-of-print books from my backlist.  Every step of the way, I met with encouragers.  Given my experience with traditional publishing -- a series of obstacles I must somehow get over in order to see my book in print -- the e-route was a revelation.  While I appreciate the way print publishing works, all those obstacles can be discouraging. Going the e-route, everyone from the cover designer to the formatter to the helpful fellow at Amazon urged me onward, made me feel I could do this.  Their enthusiasm sent me back to my wip with renewed excitement and a mind brimming with possibilities.  What a gift!

    Scripture exhorts us to encourage one another. Over and over Paul stresses the need for Christians to share each others trials and to boost each others spirits.  1 Thessalonians 5:11Ephesians 4:29,  Philippians 4:8,
  1 Corinthians 14:31 Thessalonians 4:18Romans 15 
  Of course Jesus and the Holy Spirit are our greatest encouragers, John 16:33,   John 14:16. 
But the Bible gives us many examples of mortal men who used their power to help others along the road.
   Moses encouraged Joshua to take command of the Isrealite armies and lead them into the Promised Land. 

  Andrew encouraged his brother, Peter, to come to Jesus.
  Mordecai the Jew in the reign of Esther encouraged all his fellow Jews.
  Jonathan, son of Saul, encouraged David when Saul sought to kill him.
  The Apostle Barnabas is a prime example of one who encourages. Even his name means  “Son of Encouragement” or “ Son of Exhortation” Acts 4:36

    I think writers are wonderful examples of encouragers.  I belong to this group, RWA, and  various other writing organizations.  In each case I'm overwhelmed by the willingness of writers to share their experience, offer advice, mentor a newbie, and present a sympathetic shoulder, all without any expectation of recompense, except maybe that sympathetic shoulder when it's their turn.

    Earlier there was discussion on this blog about your word for the year.  I didn't participate because I couldn't think of a word that was big enough.  Now, that the party is half over, I think I've found my word -- encourager.

Alice Valdal lives in beautiful British Columbia, Canada with her husband and two cats.  She is very happy with her new book covers, designed by Dawn Charles at Book Graphics.

Published Books.


  1. I think you've chosen a wonderful word, Alice! I love being an encourager too--and I'm glad you found so many encouraging people along the way in your self-publishing journey. Well done to you for getting those books out as e-books!

  2. Thanks Jo-Anne. You're an encourager.

  3. Alice, I agree that "encourager" is a good word. When I think of my favorite people I think of them as friends who focus on others strengths rather than their weaknesses. Even in writing we're instructed not to lose sight of what we do right---but to continue doing what works as we avoid and edit out what doesn't. Congratulations on your e-books.
    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

  4. Alice, love this. I especially love Barnabas - he was so important to helping Paul get started in his ministry. A great example of not realising how significant one's encouragement can be to helping set up a legacy that lasts for centuries.

    We can never encourage too much.

  5. And then there were Aaron and Hur, the hand holders. Encouragement is much needed in today's body of Christ. Great post, great thoughts. Thank you for encouraging us to become encouragers.

  6. Thanks for your comments, everyone. Judith, we could start a challenge to name encouragers from the Bible. It would be a long list!