“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another….” 1 Thess. 5:11
The Holy Spirit prompted me to encourage my teenagers today. I was in the midst of carrying laundry when He gave me the idea to write them notes and place them on their pillows. My tendency is to “wait for free time” to do things like this, but then I forget and weeks later it hits me–oh yeah, I was gonna do _____ (fill in the blank).
So I threw the load in the washer, grabbed a notepad I use for my grocery list, and sat down at my dining room table. As I got started I thought, surely there are other moms like me who mean well, but get caught up in life and forget their kids need encouragement, too. I know this to be true because my best friend and I talk about this often, especially as we watch our teenagers grow toward adulthood.
Encouraging others is not hard for me. I can almost immediately see something to encourage in others; it’s one of my spiritual gifts from the Lord. I have to admit, however, it has been more challenging since my kids reached their teenage years. The busyness of life gets in the way and, sometimes, so do the attitudes. And I’m not just referring to theirs.
This got me thinking about why we encourage one another. Do we only focus on actions? Do we focus on appearance? Or do we focus on character, gifts, talents, etc.? It’s easy to encourage actions and appearance; we can see that more readily. But what message are we sending our teens when we only encourage what they do or how they look?
We make it hard for them to not become focused on performance and looks to earn approval. We forget how much more they need to be encouraged for their character and correct heart attitudes. That was the very idea the Lord gave me: to encourage their character and attitude. They certainly hear enough from me about their bad attitude. Shouldn’t I spend more time praising their good attitudes?
For example, my son has been getting up at 5:45 every morning for soccer since the second week of school. At first, he was running with the cross country team before soccer practice. Then he started a performance course in October. Including all this, is his first class of the day. Can you guess what it is? That’s right, it’s soccer. So, he spends 2-3 hours, five days a week, working out and practicing. He also has been playing in a recreational soccer league since September. Apart from the very occasional, “Man, I’m tired,” he never complains. (It probably also helps that he has been getting leaner and building muscle like crazy, which he often likes to point out.)
I have been so proud of him lately, but I also realized it’s not really in his character to complain. Philippians 2:14 tells us to do all things without grumbling or complaining. He has been an example of this as he has adjusted to so many new things this school year: going from homeschool to public high school, playing soccer for fun to playing soccer for his school and his future (can you say scholarship?), going from no homework to homework almost every night.
Don’t get me wrong; he still has his moments of complaining about doing his chores or cleaning his room like most teenagers. But he usually does it with humor and eventually gets the work done. Humor, by the way, goes a long way toward urging our teens to do anything far more than nagging or yelling. The same is true of our husbands, but that’s a different post.
Hebrews 3:13 tells us, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Remember a few paragraphs above when I wondered why we encourage one another? Hebrews gives us the answer. If we don’t encourage or inspire our children every day, they may become hardened or stubborn by the deception of sin. We make it easier for them to become entangled in sin when we don’t encourage them. Whoa! That’s pretty heavy. May it never be true of me.
Be encouraged that each day His mercies are new and you can begin again.