Tag Archives: Encourage

Listening to the Coach

“My wife says I don’t listen,” a husband remarked, “or at least I think that’s what she said. I really wasn’t listening.”

Listening is a valuable, and sometimes, difficult skill.

We live in a noisy world. Many messages and ideas are clamoring for an audience, and it is difficult to tune in and listen. Distractions try to grab our attention while we’re listening, and it can be a struggle. Listening is vital to success though, so it is a skill you and I must continually sharpen.

No matter the goal, listening will be a part of achieving it. Colleagues must listen to one another to complete a project. A salesperson can only identify a customer’s needs if he or she listens. A husband can only understand his wife’s needs if he listens. A wife can only understand her husband’s dreams if she listens. In a deafening stadium, a team can only hear the play if they listen to the coach.

 

Teams must listen to the coach. Someone must call plays and send the team in the right direction, and success is found when the team listens. Listening is an essential skill for success.

Jesus understood the importance of listening, which is why he called fishermen. Fishermen know how to take orders. They know how to listen to the coach.

Fishermen know how to listen to the coach.

Jesus called fishermen to be his disciples because they knew how to listen. He would offer instruction or direction, and the disciples would go to work without questioning his authority. Here are 3 examples.

1. Simon and Andrew responded immediately to Jesus.

Mark 1:18 says, “When Jesus called Simon and Andrew, at once they left their nets and followed him.”

Simon and Andrew responded immediately to Jesus. Some situations require an immediate response to instructions.

2. The nets were put down after a fishless night.

Luke 5:4-6 records, “When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Now go out where it is deeper, and let down the nets to catch some fish.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing, but if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.’ And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear.”

The disciples performed an action because Jesus gave a direction. I’ve often wondered how this account would be different if the fishermen had delayed in lowering the nets. Simon and his team lowered the nets simply because Jesus said to put them down.

3. A fishless night ended when the disciples placed the net on the opposite side of the boat.

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples at the end of a fruitless night of fishing.

“He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish,” according to John 21:5-6.

Listening yielded great results. Jesus called fishermen because they knew how to listen to the coach.

The fishermen Jesus called were not dumb; they were not puppets reacting at the pull of a string. They understood when it was appropriate to ask questions and when it was necessary to just act. As fishermen, they understood sometimes the difference between failure and success is the width of the boat and the time it takes to get to the other side. Listening was a characteristic Jesus desired.

Take time to listen.

Listening is still a desired characteristic. It is okay to ask questions and try to understand methodology, but sometimes, it is vital to simply listen to the Lord.

  • Proverbs 1:5 advises, “Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance.”
  • In Psalm 46:10, the Lord says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

We live in a world filled with noise and chatter, which makes it hard to listen. However, victory can come through listening to the Lord.

One way to sharpen this skill is scheduling a noise and distraction free time each day. Use the time to read Scripture and pray. The quiet will provide an opportunity to hear what the Lord is saying.

Listening is also vital for successful relationships. Here are 10 steps to effective listening, which may help sharpen your skills.

Fishermen were good listeners, and listening is a valuable characteristic.

Acting

How good of a listener are you? Take a small step today to sharpen your listening skills. It may be turning off distractions while reading, putting down your phone when someone is talking with you, or slowing your pace to absorb what is being said. Share the steps you are taking to become a better listener in the comments below.

Know someone who would benefit from this post? Please share it.

 

Why Fishermen? They Can Relate.

“I don’t think I’m going to go to church any longer,” Beth told her mom from the passenger’s seat. The two were pulling out of the church’s parking lot after attending a Sunday morning service. Beth, a college Sophomore, was home for the weekend, and her mom, Vicki, thought it would be nice if the two attended a church service.

Beth went on to explain, “It’s not that I don’t believe in God. I do; I believe God exists. I’m just not sure God is in there with those people.”

Vicki replied, “Yeah, I see what you are saying. I wonder that too.”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus called fishermen? Jesus would have had his pick of people to call, and he chooses to call fishermen. He did not call scholars, individuals well versed in the Old Testament, or religious leaders; 7 of the first 12 disciples were fishermen. Jesus called them because they possessed characteristics, he found desirable. Jesus called fishermen because they were relatable.

Fishermen are relatable.

Jesus spent most of his time outside the synagogue, and the religious leaders would often become upset because of the class of people around him.

Luke 15:1-2 says, “Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear Jesus, but the Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus was relatable, and he called fishermen. They were also relatable. Fishermen were hard working, had families to support and bills to pay, and could easily relate to the stresses of everyday life. The fishermen Jesus called didn’t completely understand the Bible or everything taking place, but they could relate to the people who came.

As word concerning Jesus spread, people from all walks of life came to hear his message and accept his invitation of grace. Most people who came to hear Jesus were ordinary folks. They were fishermen, tax collectors, shop owners, government officials; they were moms and dads. They were individuals who had to work today to eat tomorrow. And the fishermen, turned disciples, could relate.

Christians need to be relatable.

Beth and Vicki were struggling because they did not feel they related to the people at church, and maybe the people at church did not feel like they could relate to Beth and Vicki; however, a relationship fostered outside the church walls might reveal lots of common ground. Christians, in many ways, are like the fishermen.

As word concerning Jesus still spreads, it is still ordinary folks who come to hear his message and accept his invitation of grace. Those coming are assembly line workers, customer service representatives, administrative professionals, salespeople; those coming are moms and dads and their families. They desire to find someone who relates to them; someone who has bills to pay and understands the stresses of life.

God called us because we are those people. We are the people who can relate. We are the ordinary folks. We are the friends and neighbors who can relate.

You may feel you have nothing to offer, but you do.

You may feel you have no insight to give, but you do.

You may feel like your story cannot encourage or inspire anyone, but it does.

You and I are relatable to the people around us, and we are how they see the Lord. Jesus didn’t call fishermen because they were experts; he called them because they could relate to people. You and I don’t have to be experts; you and I just need to be ourselves.

Acting

Be intentional with your relationships today. Allow someone to relate to the Lord through you today. It may be through a kind word, generous act, or simple and polite interaction.

Know someone who may benefit from this post? Please share it with him or her.

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Offering Grace

She’s on a journey to forgive her rapist.

She forgave the teenagers who mutilated her face.

They forgave the man who slaughtered their children.

These are certainly attention-grabbing headlines, and they start telling the stories of horrific pain and tremendous loss, but they do more. We are not only captivated by the heart wrenching tragedy but the victim’s response.

Each of these stories is an incredible illustration of grace. Each victim offers forgiveness to an individual who did the unthinkable. In turn, serving as an illustration to us.

As Christians, we are encouraged to offer forgiveness, and C. S. Lewis says, “Everyone believes forgiveness is a grand idea until he has something to forgive.” Forgiving can be one of the hardest things you and I are asked to do, but it can also be one of the most liberating.

I’m far from perfect, and I do not have this part of the Christian journey completely figured out. I was encouraged to explore it some more by these stories, and I hope you are as well.

She’s on a journey of forgiveness after rape.

Beverly had a supposed friend who worked for the state. He requested some of her time, and they scheduled an appointment. Entering Beverly’s home under the façade of needing her time, the man took much more than her time; he raped her.

He successfully denied and covered up the act, and he continued to move up the political ladder. Beverly would see him on the news, encounter him at parties, and would be upset.

Two years after the rape, Beverly met a friend who told her of Christ’s forgiveness and protection. Beverly decided to accept Christ’s invitation of grace and begin the journey of maximizing Christ in her life and healing from the hurt caused by the rapist. The Journey may not be completed, but it is started. Beverly’s story is told in Facing Your Giants.

She forgave the teenagers who mutilated her face.

Victoria Ruvolo was on her way home in November 2004. She was returning home after attending a family member’s recital, and it was late, and driving was a little difficult because of the freezing rain. The car she was about to pass may have caught her attention, but she doesn’t remember. The teenage boy hanging out the window may have caught her attention, but again, she does not remember. Nor does she remember seeing the 20-pound frozen turkey the boy was holding in his hand.

The boy launched the turkey at Victoria’s car, smashing her windshield, bending the steering wheel inward, and breaking every bone in her face. Victoria’s face suffered extensive damage and had to be completely restructured.

It took an 8-hour surgery and 3-week hospital stay to even begin the road to recovery. While Victoria was recovering, the wheels of justice were spinning, and the public was voicing outrage at the crime.

Fast forward to August 2005 and enter the court room. The young man who launched the turkey pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received a sentence of 6 months behind bars, 5 years’ probation, community service, and counseling. The lenient sentence is given at the request of Victoria.

She too was in the court room, and after the hearing, Victoria and the young man came face to face. Both sobbing, Victoria said, I forgive you. I want your life to be all it can be.” The pain and agony caused to Victoria was met with grace and mercy. Victoria’s story is told in Captured by Grace.

They forgave the man who slaughtered their children.

In October 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse and ordered the teacher, teacher’s assistant, and boys to leave. The 10 girls in the class were left alone with the gunman. He covered the windows and was planning for a long siege, but as state police officers surrounded the schoolhouse, he shot the girls and killed himself. 5 girls died, and the other 5 were severely wounded. This was not the only part of the story which made headlines though.

The Amish community publicly forgave the gunman. They befriended the gunman’s wife and children. Marie Monville, the gunman’s wife, recalls to CNN the community showered her family with gifts. They waived at her on the way to the bus stop, and they even attended her husband’s funeral. The families, who were victims of a heinous and unthinkable act, offered grace. Monville tells her story in One Light Still Shines.

Acting

As I mentioned, I do not have forgiveness completely figured out. The individuals in these stories are true illustrations of offering grace to one another, and they encourage me to explore offering forgiveness. I hope they do you as well.

Join me in learning the act of forgiveness and experiencing the liberation it brings.

Please share this post with anyone you believe would find it encouraging.

 

10 Practical Ways to Imitate Compassion

His occupation is beggar, and he has secured a prime spot. The road he sits beside each day is heavily traveled, and it is one of the best spots to be a beggar. He hears the stories about Jesus as he sits there; the stories of Jesus healing people and performing all kinds of miracles, and he wonders if Jesus could help him.

One day the traffic is unusually heavy. At first, he thinks it will be a large collection day. All those people in town would result in much more given. It turns out it is an extraordinary day. Jesus is in town, and now is his shot.

So, Bartimaeus starts shouting for Jesus to have mercy on him. People around him tell him to shut up, but he shouts more until Jesus hears him.

Jesus stops, calls Bartimaeus, and heals his eye condition. Jesus has compassion on him.

We live in a world filled with hurt. There is much need for compassion, and the Lord is compassionate. We are encouraged to imitate his compassion, so here is the picture of what we are to imitate and practical ways we can be imitators. Here are a few more times Jesus demonstrates his compassion.

The Lord is compassionate.

Luke 7 records Jesus and his disciples entering a town. As they were approaching the gate, a dead man was being carried out. The man’s mother, a widow, was following him overwhelmed with sorrow. Luke says, “When Jesus saw her, his heart went out to her.” He was so moved by compassion it drove him to action. Jesus raised her son.

Mark 1:40-42 records a man with leprosy coming to request help from Jesus. Mark tells us Jesus was moved by the situation. Jesus became angry at the man’s situation. He was not angry with the man, but the man’s situation. He healed the man, and Mark says, “immediately, the man’s leprosy left him. Jesus was so moved by compassion that it drove him to action.

Jesus doesn’t just feel sorry for folks. His compassion drives him to action. It drives him to do something about their situation. When Jesus sees people hurting, he takes steps to help them.

So what?

We are encouraged to show compassion as Jesus shows compassion.

Luke 6:36 says, “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.”

Acting

Here are 10 practical ways you and I can show compassion.

  1. Pray for those in need.
  2. Volunteer at a food pantry.
  3. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
  4. Provide transportation to a neighbor in need.
  5. Offer to pick up groceries or a prescription for a neighbor who has difficulty getting out of her home.
  6. Volunteer with a relief organization to do local projects.
  7. Check on a neighbor to make sure he is doing okay during an extreme weather event.
  8. Try to have a conversation with someone who seems lonely.
  9. Send a card or encouraging note to a friend you know is struggling.
  10. Offer a bit of grace to someone.

How are you going to show compassion today?

What are some other ways we can show compassion?

Share in the comments below, and if you know someone who would find this post encouraging, please share it.

 

Lurking Monsters Don’t Live Under the Bed

“I keep my faith intact. Make sure my prayers are said. Cause I’ve learned the monsters ain’t the ones beneath the bed.”

I love how the Lord’s message can be wrapped in the lyrics of a song. For me, it has a way of grabbing my attention and driving home a point.

Monsters by Eric Church is one such song.

BUY the album Desperate Man at Amazon

The song reminds us there are “monsters” lurking for an opportune time to ambush us. Every mistake cannot be avoided. You and I will mess up, but the Lord will be there to help us. We should keep our faith intact and our prayers said to defeat the “monsters” that do not live beneath the bed.

Jesus Can Take the Wheel

“Save me from this road I’m on. Jesus, take the wheel.”

Song lyrics have the power to cut right to our heart, and the Bible’s message of forgiveness can be place in lyrics without us realizing we are hearing it. Here is one such song.

BUY Jesus, Take the Wheel at Amazon

Jesus, Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood reminds us it is never too late for a fresh start. Forgiveness is always there for us. The Lord is not going to run out of grace. A new start is always offered to us.

Perhaps it’s time for a new start. This may be the first time, or it may be fresh start number 100; there is no limit to the number of fresh starts you and I can make. Love is patient and kind. It keeps no record of wrongdoing, so God is patient and kind. He keeps no record of wrongdoing.

The start number is not important. Our past is back there, and we must leave it. Now is what matters, that we make this the start which sticks. Today’s choices will chart tomorrow’s course and determine our destination.

The young lady in the song prayed, “Jesus, take the wheel. Take it from my hand. I can’t do this on my own. Save me from this road I’m on.” If this is you crying out, God promises he will.

3 Questions from Three Wooden Crosses

“It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you; it’s what you leave behind you when you go.”

Welcome to Music Monday. There are many songs whose lyrics reach out and grab listeners by the heart. They present the Lord’s message to us in a place and way we do not expect to hear it.

With Three Wooden Crosses, Randy Travis takes listeners on a dramatic bus trip. The story of the teacher, preacher, farmer, and sex worker leave us pondering 3 questions.

Does our influence matter?

The preacher may have not reached anyone else in his lifetime but reaching the sex worker had a multigenerational impact.

How powerful are our choices?

One choice changed everything for one passenger on the bus. Her story may be like Rahab’s story. Joshua 2 tells us Rahab made a multitude of bad choices, but she changed the direction of her life with one right choice.

BUY Three Wooden Crosses at Amazon

What are we leaving behind?

This may be the deepest of the 3 questions causing us to take a hard look at our legacy. What kind of legacy will you leave? What do you want to leave behind you when you go?

You and I should answer this question for our lives, but also for the various seasons of life. As we transition from one chapter of life to the next, what do we want to leave behind?

What songs grab your heart? Share in the comments below.

Our Work Matters

Colleen was a college student who was working a part-time job to cover bills. Not having a lot of money, Colleen tried to get by on what she had. Her shoes were showing age, but she planned to wear them if they held up.

One morning after church, a lady handed Colleen a box containing a new pair of shoes. “Here you go. I thought we probably wore the same size.” The lady said, “I can’t do much, but I thought I’d buy you a pair of shoes.”

Grateful for the shoes, Colleen replied, “Thank you.”

“Don’t worry about it,” came the answer, “it takes a village to get us through life.”

The shoes were a small thing, but they made a big difference for Colleen. The lady’s act of service was not headline grabbing, but it was meaningful.

Our acts of service matter; our work matters. We may not be the CEO in our company or be in the spotlight at our church, but our contribution is important. The CEO is efficient because of her Administrative Assistant. The leader in the spotlight would fail quickly if not for the team around him. Each person’s role is crucial to success.

Our contribution is valuable.

The Bible says we have something to contribute.

Romans 12:6-8 says, “In his grace God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well, so if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak up with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well; if you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously, and if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

You and I are part of a community, and our role is just as important as the other roles. We rely on one another, and our interdependence is not a weakness; it is a strength.

To help us understand this, the Bible uses the illustration of the human body. Is the body made of only feet? Can the hand do the job of the eye? No, the body is made of several parts. Each part must do its job for the body to function. The parts work together making the body strong and sustaining its survival.

Our roles are the same. We must each do our role for the community to function. Some roles are in the spotlight, while others are behind the scenes. Some roles encompass many responsibilities, while others embrace only a couple. However, each role is equally important.

We matter at church and at work.

This principle holds true at church and work.

At Church

You may be responsible for teaching a class attended by a handful of kids, but your contribution is still meaningful.

You may be responsible for running the vacuum each week. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s your contribution keeping the building clean.

You may be the person who arrives early, unlocks the door, turns on the lights, and makes the coffee. It may not seem like much to you, but without you, people would have to break in the building, walk around in the dark, and remain half asleep.

Our contribution to the church matters.

At Work

The Theology of Work project brings to light this principle is the same at work as it is at church. For success, the work team must function as a unit.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord….”

The work we do at our job matters. Our contribution is vital to our workplace’s success.

If you stock shelves, stock shelves well. If you answer the phone, answer the phone well. If you tighten bolts, tighten them well. The work you and I do is significant in the overall health of the company.

Think of it this way. An auto factory worker is tasked with tightening lug nuts. He falls for the lie his job doesn’t matter, so he stops making sure the nuts are tight. A truck is delivered with loose lug nuts, and the wheel falls off while it is being driven down the interstate.

The accident causes consumers to question the auto makers safety. In turn, causing sales to slump, the slow sales cause lay offs at the factory. All the trouble started because the factory worker fell for the lie his work did not matter.

The assembly line worker is just as important as the CEO. The custodian is just as important as the CFO. No matter what we do, our work is meaningful.

Please do not fall for the lie your contribution is insignificant and your life does not matter. You do matter, and you do have something to contribute.

Acting

Ask the Lord to help you recognize the meaningfulness of your contribution and opportunities to contribute.

Know a friend who would find this post helpful? Please share it with him or her.

 

Music Monday: The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost

Check out the latest episode of Get Encouraged on Spotify!

Welcome to Music Monday. I’m always fascinated by songs that can get us thinking about the Lord without even realizing it. The Lord’s encouragement and truth can sneak into a song and grab listeners by the heart strings. Suddenly a simple song thrusts the Lord’s encouragement and truth right before us. Music Mondays look at some of these songs.

The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost by Craig Morgan reminds us of the hope we have in Christ. Morgan wrote the song as a tribute to his late son. It reminds us in the most hopeless situations, the Lord gives hope. The last line sums up our eternal hope. “One day I’ll wake up and I’ll be home with the Father my son, and the Holy Ghost.”

Situations may seem hopeless, but in Christ, there is always hope. If nothing else, Heaven awaits.

10 Ways to Offer Encouragement

Has this ever happened to you? You notice someone having a difficult time and believe they could use encouragement, but you don’t know what to do. I hope I’m not the only one who has had this experience.

To spite our feeling, we have nothing to offer, we do. We can make a difference. Here are some tips and ways to offer encouragement.

4 Tips to Remember

If you are struggling to offer encouragement, here are 4 tips to remember.

Like Jesus Does

We should approach people in the same manner as Jesus. Each time Jesus approaches an individual in the Gospels, he does so compassionately. He shows concern for the situation, and the person can tell he is understanding. We should attempt to approach those around us in the same way.

Everything Counts

We know the value of encouragement, but we convince ourselves what we are going to do is not enough to help. However, every act of encouragement makes a difference. If 4 or 5 people encourage a person in small ways, it doesn’t take long before the person is standing on a mountain of encouragement.

The small things count. Smiling as you go through a cashier’s line, being positive with your waiter, and saying hi to someone as you pass in the grocery store counts. Sending a card or note to a friend who is struggling counts. Every act of encouragement counts in the sum.

Every Day Counts

As you and I go about our daily activities, it is inevitable we’ll meet someone needing encouragement. Make each day count.

Hebrews 3:13 reminds us to encourage one another daily. This verse reminds us to build each other up constantly. Discouragement never vacations, so we cannot afford to take a day off.

No One is Exempt

Everyone will need encouragement at some point. Discouragement knows how to sneak into everyone’s life, and it seems the Lord responds by placing people in our lives to encourage us, so we should always be ready to offer encouragement.

Satan’s Yard Sale

There is an old story told in which the Devil is having a yard sale. He’s ran out of room in his workshop, and he opens the doors to perspective buyers. The tools of worry, strife, anxiety and division were priced to move.

One buyer noticed a well-used, old tool lying on a corner shelf. As the man was looking at it, Satan said, “That tool is not for sale.”

“I’ll give you whatever you want for it,” the man replied, “just name your price.”

Again, the devil said, “It is not for sale.” Only this time, he offered an explanation. “All the tools for sale are useful. They help me sway people in my direction, but the tool you are holding is responsible for causing the most havoc. For people than my other tools combined.”

The man realized the label was worn and he could not read it, so he asked, “What tool is it?”

The devil answered, “It is discouragement. I could never part with it. I would give up all my other tools, but never this tool of discouragement.”

10 Ways to Offer Encouragement

It is important for us to receive encouragement, so here are 10 ways to offer encouragement.

  • Smile at a cashier as you go through his or her line.
  • Tip a waiter who is obviously having a bad day
  • Greet a person as you pass in the store.
  • Send a card or note.
  • Provide a meal to a friend you know is ill.
  • Tell a coworker “Good job.”
  • Pay for the person behind you in the coffee shop line.
  • Give a small gift.
  • Offer to pray for a friend.
  • Share your favorite passage of Scripture with a neighbor.

Acting

Offer encouragement to a coworker, friend, or neighbor in the next few days. Share your experience in the comments below. What ways do you offer encouragement? Share in the comments. Know someone who would find this post helpful? Please share it.