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Intentional encouragement

8 August 2022

Intentional encouragement

A powerful expression of friendship and care

Words Bryce Davies

Everyone needs encouragement. But to be encouraged, you need someone to do the encouraging. 

Anyone can be an encourager, but there are ways to do it better, like asking good questions and listening well. People are often afraid and need little moments of hope, so let’s not be stingy with words and actions that encourage. 

A core value in my life is being an encouraging friend. So, I’m reading a book called Encouragement: The Key to Caring by Dan Allender and Larry Crabb. The authors go into quite some detail about why people need encouragement and how we can learn to be good at it. 

I’m on a journey of thinking about people in my life who may need me to encourage them and then being intentional about ways to do this. It turns out everyone in my life could do with a little bit of encouragement, and when I stop and think about it, there are always opportunities to do something. 

The last thing I want is to be insincere or manipulative. Fake care is worse than no care at all. For example, sometimes I meet someone and say it would be great to catch up for a coffee, but I rarely follow this up or even have any serious intention of doing so. I need to follow it up or be more careful about what I promise. 

On the other hand, finding the time to have a coffee with someone is a powerful expression of friendship and care. You find the time for the things that are important to you. This week, I found the time to do this, and it really was worthwhile. 


Many people fear they will be rejected, that they will not measure up, and that they will just not cope. People are often uncomfortable with negative emotions like fear, sadness and anger, so being encouraging will help us all feel safe to express our negative emotions in healthy and helpful ways. 

When we hide from others, we lose the ability to be authentic and give and receive encouragement. Giving someone the space to be honest without judgment and within a culture of growth and curiosity, can be amazingly encouraging. 

Every time I go for a run, I need encouragement as I am slow and unsure if I will hold others back, get lost or fall over and require someone to haul my significant girth back to civilisation. So, the people I run with are important as they are always encouraging and optimistic. Not once have I felt like I am really annoying someone by being a bit slow. 


A great way to be encouraging is to have a few good questions up your sleeve to ask people when you get a chance to chat. Here are three I have found helpful lately for the people I run with:

  1. How is your running or fitness going? 
  2. What book are you reading, and how has it impacted you?
  3. How was your week out of 10, and what would need to happen for you to improve on this score? 

Real encouragement can only happen in a healthy relationship. We need to break down the isolation and mistrust to get close enough to be genuinely encouraging to someone, but this can take time. The difference this can make for everyone involved is amazing.

Encouragement is a core value for lots of spiritually happy and healthy people. In my experience with the Salvos, one of the most powerful things I can give to a person who is struggling is to empower them to help someone else.

Who can you encourage today? Think of someone and put a plan of action in place. Be intentional and specific about it, and most importantly, do it!

Major Bryce Davies is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) and mentor


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