There is nothing more gratifying than to hear the words, "well done." It is like putting fuel into a car. It keep us motivated in ways that are hard to understand. Now, I realize that we should not be bound by what other's think about us and that it is dangerous to "need to be needed" and patted on the back. However, no matter how well adjusted we are, a heartfelt compliment or sincere thanks lifts our spirits.
For me personally, I know that encouragement gives me incentive to dig harder and reach deeper than I would on my own. I am probably not alone. Why else would thousands of people stand along the street of a marathon yelling for complete strangers? I can tell you from personal experience that those last few miles are made survivable when you see smiling strangers cheering you on to the finish.
Maxwell uses Walt Disney's description of three types of people in his book. Disney said that people are either 1) well-poisoners, 2) lawn mowers, or 3) life-enhancers. The well-poisoner typology is readily apparent. We tend to avoid these individuals unless they happen to be in our family or we work alongside them (and then to be honest we probably do more avoiding than we are willing to admit). The lawn mowers are people who are so self-absorbed that they don't recognize their potential impact upon others. And finally, there are people in our life that make others better simply by being around.
I tend to hope that I am a life-enhancer, but I wonder how often I have been a lawn mower who was more interested in keeping things nice and tidy at all costs. It takes work to keep our life nice and tidy. It takes control of our environment and our calendar and almost everything else. I believe that being a life-enhancer necessitates our giving up some of the control in our life in order to connect on a deeper level with people. It is back to the earlier post about ministry of "presence".
So, this week…who in our life is running on empty? Who could use a word, a deed, or even a long conversation? Let me get a bit mystical for a moment and ask, "who is the Holy Spirit leading" you to encourage? I believe with all my heart the adage that God puts people into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Sometimes the reasons are for us to be a light of encouragement.