It’s a Dad thing, actually. Sometimes I can’t help myself.
When you have a minimum of four teenagers at a time, as I have had for the past four years, you just can’t help yourself sometimes. You do whatever you have to do to earn that embarrassed groan from your offspring, to get the gift of the rolling of the eyes. It’s what dads do.
Often, the method of my dadness is a particularly corny joke–which pretty much describes most of my jokes, I guess. My kids rarely think my jokes are funny, and don’t much like it when other people do. Usually, a little laughter by others will elicit the obligatory eye rolling, followed by my kids telling the other person: “Don’t encourage him!”
I hope you won’t listen to them when they make such requests. Because no matter how corny the jokes may be, we all need a little encouragement sometimes. So go ahead; make my day! Encourage me!
Actually, there aren’t many of us who don’t need encouragement. How many of you would say that you just get too much encouragement? Do people tell you how wonderful you are wherever you go? When you get to work does everyone stop and clap for you? When you arrive home do you get a standing ovation? Do your kids carry around pictures of you in their wallets and show them to everyone saying, “These are my parents, aren’t they wonderful?”
Okay, that may be a stretch. But I’m guessing, either way, that your life is probably not much like that. As a matter of fact, all of us do need encouragement–it’s the way God wired us. Charles Lowery says a good rule to remember is that if people are breathing, they need some encouragement.
There are plenty of Biblical admonitions for us to “encourage one another.” In some ways, it’s what the life in Biblical community is all about. The much-quoted passage of Hebrews 10:25 about “forsaking not the assembling of ourselves together” really focuses more on the call to “encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” In other words, if we’ll spend more time encouraging one another, we’ll not have to worry about people “forsaking not” coming to church.
The Bible is full of stories of encouragers as well. One of my favorite accounts comes from the Old Testament, when David, who was called “a man after God’s own heart,” had to “encourage himself” in the Lord, as the King James Version described it (1 Sam. 30:6). He en-couraged himself; that is, he found strength and courage for the task at hand.
I think my favorite New Testament character was one who was mentioned only a few times. His given name was Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus. But you probably know him by the name his friends, the disciples, called him: Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). What a nickname! Not “Lumpy” of “Big Foot” or “Grinner” or even “Bubba,” but “Encourager!”
Now let me ask you one question. Do your friends at work, at school, in your neighborhood or at church ever call you Encourager? Or let me ask it another way. Wouldn’t you just love to hang out with a guy whose nickname is the Encourager? Of course you would–you wouldn’t have to be like David and encourage yourself!
So why don’t you make it your goal to be one of those en-couragers like Barnabas this week. Just look around you until you find someone who is breathing, and go to work on them. You might be surprised the difference you make for God’s kingdom.
Be encouraged, and be blessed. I’m praying for you, and I can’t wait to see you Sunday!