Listen to this devotional:
1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (NIV)
I had a great English teacher named Mr. Cruikshanks when I was in high school. He not only taught me how to read poetry, drama, and literature effectively, but he also taught me how to write — quite literally.
His calligraphy was remarkable. I can still picture him writing beautiful script on the blackboard with some white chalk. The curves and shapes of the letters fascinated me. I had never come across anything like it before. He wrote in italics, and it was a joy both to read his comments on my homework and to see his handiwork.
Before he became my teacher, my handwriting was atrocious. It was so bad that I couldn't decipher it at times. My previous teachers had given up on my ever writing anything that was legible, and so I never improved. But when I saw Mr. Cruikshanks' style of writing for the first time, I knew that I wanted to copy it. My mother purchased a small book on calligraphy for me. Gradually, over the years, my handwriting improved, and because of that, so did my love for literature.
My English teacher encouraged me as he watched my calligraphy develop. When he corrected my homework, he not only commented on its content, but he also wrote examples of how he styled certain combinations of letters. By the time I left high school six years later, I had not only copied Mr. Cruikshanks' wonderful lettering, but I had also developed a few unique combinations of my own, which I still use. Without his initial encouragement (no pun intended), I would never have enjoyed writing so much as I do today.
Encouragement is a great teacher of all of us. Paul used it to build up the emerging churches in the Mediterranean. Congregations that are growing usually have great encouragers as their leaders. As Christians, we are called to help our own churches grow. Among the best ways to do this are to encourage others to deepen their faith, to appreciate their accomplishments, and to compliment their work for the Lord.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the people in our past who have greatly encouraged us to develop our skills and fulfill our dreams. Thank You for those members in our congregations whose encouraging words make us want to deepen our faith and enhance our service in Your kingdom. Help us also to do the same for those who are developing their commitment to You, especially those who are emerging as church leaders. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.