The Gift of Encouragement

A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…

When I first started writing, about a hundred years ago, I learned quickly that the writer’s life was full of rejections. Of course, I was in good company.

  • Zane Gray was told, “You have no business being a writer and you should give up.” He has sold over 250 million books.
  • Louis L’Amour received 200 rejections before he was published. He has sold over 330 million books.
  • Agatha Christie’s books were rejected for five years. Her book sales are now over $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has sold more.
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul books were rejected 140 times. Now they have sold over 125 million books. .
  • The Tales of Peter Rabbit was rejected so many times that Beatrice Potter decided to self-publish 250 books. It has sold over 45 million.
  • Margaret Mitchell received 38 rejections for Gone with the Wind.
  • A Wrinkle in Time received 26 rejections.

J. K. Rowling, Dr. Suess, C.S. Lewis, and H. G. Wells all experienced major rejection. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Now I don’t list these names in the hopes I, too, will one day be a rich and famous author. I’m just illustrating rejection comes with the territory. So early on I realized I would get plenty of rejection. Therefore, from the beginning, when I received a positive comment about anything I wrote, I put it into a folder. It’s my “encouragement” folder.

A writer’s life can be a lonely one—just you, your computer, and a thesaurus. Most people do not take the time to write a note when they like what you’ve written. So you don’t know if anyone is reading it or if it has impacted a person in some way. So these precious notes and letters boost my spirits when I’m feeling low. I also have another “encouragement” file with meaningful, thoughtful notes from friends, family, and associates. It’s not a vanity thing. It just reaffirms that my efforts are not a total loss. We all need a little encouragement from time to time.

Life is full of rejection and negativity. God accepts and appreciates us, but others may not. I think that’s why the Bible says a lot about edifying and encouraging others (1 Thessalonians 5:5). Edify means to build up or encourage. The Message Bible puts it this way: “Watch the way you talk…Say only what helps, each word a gift” (Ephesians 4:29). Encouragement is a gift we give to one another.  

Encouragement is important because it goes straight to the heart of a person. In fact, in Latin “en” means “put into” and “cor” means “the heart.” Put into the heart!

We live in an ultra-busy society. Giving encouragement to others falls way down at the bottom of our to-do list. Yet, God himself is the great encourager (Psalm 10:17; Romans 15:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). The Bible is the most encouraging book ever written. God comforts, exhorts, and encourages us. He wants us to do that for others (I Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11; Hebrews 3:13).

Encouragement should not be confused with idle flattery. Not everyone is the greatest, best, or most fantastic person in the whole wide world. False praise can produce rivalry or competition, be judgmental, foster selfishness, or give a deceptive sense of evaluation. Encouragement, on the other hand, stimulates cooperation or contribution for the good of all, focuses on effort, makes a person feel accepted, and gives comfort or joy.

Encouragement is a two-way street, a win-win scenario as they say in the corporate world. It not only encourages the recipient but the giver as well (Romans 1:11-12). An old adage says, “One word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than a hundred words of praise during a success.” I think that’s true.

We live in a pressure-filled world filled with unrealistic expectations. Satan uses this to tear us down, make us feel unimportant and unappreciated, or like we don’t belong. Sometimes we feel like Jesus doesn’t even care, even though deep in our hearts we know differently. Encouragers are Christ’s representatives here on earth. Their mission is to “put into the heart” of people the thought that they are appreciated and someone cares.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for sending encouragers my way. Put in my heart words of encouragement for others. When someone does a kind deed, let me praise them. When people exhibit any of the fruits of Your Spirit, let me commend them. When others have me go first, let me thank them. When friends make progress, let me congratulate them. Let me never miss an opportunity to acknowledge others. You want people to feel valued, appreciated, and loved. What You’ve given me, let me gladly pass on to others. To YOU be the glory!

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