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Encouragement: Give and Receive
Dave Williamson
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

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Encouragement: Give and Receive

In the mid 1970s, radio airwaves were full of Harry Chapin's Cat's in the Cradle, a haunting ballad of an out-of-sync father and son who never manage to spend time together. Years after I became a father, those lyrics were the source of a personal jab of truth. Well into my career, I was becoming aware that my family received the leftovers of my time and energy. It wasn't long before my wife confronted me with the same truth, but less musically. In this case, she intensely, painfully encouraged me to change how I allocate my time.

Encouragement comes to me in varied packages: from gentle, light, and easy to heavy, painful, difficult, and unrelenting. Encouragement is also something God invites us to both receive and give: "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up" (1 Thess. 5:11, NIV).

On the fundamental level, encouragement is as simple as paying attention, to actively focus, to listen to another person. That encouragement is gentle, light, and easy. One's words to another person are likely to have little effect unless they come with full attention to that person's heart and soul. To attend, to tune in, means to listen fully with my eyes, my posture, my full presence … and with my ears. Dietrich Bonhoeffer observed in his book Life Together that "God not only gives us his Word, but also lends us his ear."

Scripture frequently reminds me of our heavenly Father's loving power and compassion. Even a brief review of God's character is sufficient to re-energize me now and inspire hope for the future.

When our encouragement to others goes out wrapped in tough love (like my wife's confrontation regarding my use of time), we must work doubly to make sure that we deliver it from our hearts. When we are on the receiving end of tough encouragement, we want to accept it openly and prayerfully.

Encouragement both given and received can move me to live a bolder, energized, and enlivened life. The Promised Encourager, the Holy Spirit, is at work in and through us. So receive the encouragement that he gives directly and through people in our lives. Give the encouragement that so many people around you need. Receive the encouragement given.

Dave Williamson serves on the advisory council for and is senior consultant and director emeritus of Laity Lodge. This article is adapted with permission from his original article "An Encouraging Word" at All rights reserved.

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Evan Friese

December 14, 2014  9:46am

To James and so many others who are struggling, particularly in their marriage. You cannot do this alone. There are other men who God has called to encourage and disciple you. They may not find you. You must step out of the comfort of isolation and pride and seek them. Do not delay. And please don't "filter out" the anger and hurt your wife is expressing. You need to hear and feel it no matter how painful it is to you personally. See your wife through the eyes of Jesus. She is desperate for your leadership. Love her, serve her and above listen attentively to her without defending or thinking of your rebuttal before she has completed her rant. You have what it takes. The Spirit has given you all that you need. We must humble ourselves daily to seek His will and tap into His power to do what we are incapable to do ourselves. God is FOR marriage and God is FOR you.

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JAMES Trullinger

December 14, 2014  8:01am

Very Appropriate for me today as I struggle in my relationship with my spouse of 28 years. I need to listen to what she is saying and filter out the anger and the hurt in her message. I need to encourage her and lead by example. I never thought of encouragement as a need but I can see by isolating myself from others has hindered my relationships and my walk with Jesus.

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David Wegmann

October 02, 2013  6:04am

This is just what I needed to be reminded of, I try to do it as I go though the day, but sometimes I feel,and I know I become the opposite. I am just turning 65 this month, and I remember having a conversation with my wife many years ago as this one. Reevaluating my time and thought patterns are a constant battle at times but I thank God for the wife he gave me, and thank him so much for blessing as in this message that keep me on track.

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