Recently, I came across a video on my Twitter feed from a friend whose son had finished treatment at a children’s hospital. Having known of this precious one since he was very small, my heart was moved as I watched this now little boy pass under a “You are a Hero” sign and confidently walk down a hallway lined with wildly cheering hospital staff. His face beamed as he “rang the bell” signifying the momentous occasion.
As I watched the medical team, cowbells and maracas’ in hand, loudly celebrating this victory, and having just a tiny glimpse of this extraordinary child’s journey, my eyes welled with tears. It was a poignant illustration to me of the role that each of us can play in the lives of others.
Every day, we have an opportunity to cheer-on those around us: to celebrate the hard-fought steps that each one has taken. And while we may not be able to arrange a wildly cheering crowd to swell with hoots and hollers as they round the corner... we can create a culture of encouragement with a simple, “That was really well done” or even a surprise note of thanks tucked away in a drawer that you know will be opened. And... you have no idea of the impact it makes.
I want to share three snapshots of how God’s grace is shaping my work environment through encouragement encounters.
One day as I came around the corner to the desk where my co-workers sit, I cheerfully put down my things and said, “Good morning, Amazing Ones!” Their response of, “Awwwww... thank you!” was eclipsed by the unexpected response of one of our guests who was standing there to be checked-in for surgery. Shaking her head in disbelief, she said, “I wish my co-workers would say that to me when they arrive in the morning.” Honestly, I was a bit embarrassed. My intent was not to gain recognition, but rather to express my authentic appreciation and gratitude for the privilege of working with such a wonderful team. The person standing at the desk just happened to experience the overspill.
On another occasion, desperate to find a paper clip, I stumbled upon a collection of notes hanging on a wall. What blew me away was the fact that this collage was made up of random Spirit-prompted messages of encouragement I had left over the 3+ years we had been working together. While they thanked me each time they received one... it said something to me that someone would not only choose to keep them, but also hang them where they could be seen every day. Those simple expressions reminded my co-worker, "You have value" and it affirmed the fact that small gestures really can make a big difference.
Last snapshot: One of the tasks in my job is to answer the phone. When it rings, the caller’s extension is displayed on the little LED screen. So, I know, for the most part, if it is Holding, the OR, or PACU calling. One day, I spontaneously answered a phone call from recovery in a Buddy-the-Elf-what’s-your-favorite-color? tone saying, “It’s a stellar day on Children’s Way. This is Jonathan, how can I help you?” The nurse was a bit befuddled and then laughed at that unexpected greeting. Then she said something interesting. “You just made my day, thank you.” Though I don't do it often, when I have answered that way, the callers have been grateful... although I do remember one response of, “Well I’m glad it is for you!” The beautiful thing this: that few-second exchange has blossomed into random, stress-relieving hallway greetings from a number of warm-smiled staff who initiate and incorporate that same language.
These incidents reaffirmed the blessing of this reality: A culture of encouragement affects anyone who walks into that atmosphere. It has not been some manipulative three-step program engineered to manufacture a pleasant work environment. It's the total opposite: a divinely organic shift that is taking place, and can take place, as we learn to walk in the Spirit-empowered nature of Christ.
Like the wildly-cheering hospital staff who lined the hallway as that precious little boy made his way to ring the bell, you can be a champion of encouragement in the lives of others. Overflowing from a heart brimming with divine love,“...let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them” [Ephesians 4:29 TPT]. Speak “only such a word that is that is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” [NASB]. And the beautiful, freeing thing is that you don’t have to manufacture it or force anything. There is no pressure to perform. Just walk in the Spirit-granted freedom that if the words come, speak. If they don’t, be still. If the nudge comes, be courageous. If it doesn’t, simply be present.
There are people all around you, weary from fighting battles of which we are completely unaware. Oh if we could hear the silent cries of those desperately longing for a word of hope. Would you be a Spirit-led champion of encouragement today? Would you speak as the Paraclete prompts? "So, with confidence and hope in this message, strengthen those with feeble hands, shore up the weak-kneed and weary. Tell those who worry, the anxious and fearful, 'Take strength; have courage! There's nothing to fear. Look, here - your God! Right here is your God! The balance is shifting; God will right all wrongs. None other than God will give you success. He is coming to make you safe'" [Isaiah 35:3-4 VOICE]. Let's watch and see what God will do as we, "Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love" [Hebrews 10:24 TPT]. And you may just want to grab that cowbell after all... just in case. Amen.
Looking for more ways to creatively encourage others? Find all three volumes of 31 Days of Encouragement on my on-line store. This collection of keep one - share one devotionals will inspire and equip you to share a word of hope with someone else!