by Debora M. Coty @deboracoty
“Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
I recently attended a reunion at the small church in which Spouse and I raised our kids. It felt like a passage back into time. Very little had changed in the twenty-five years we’d been away – and whadayaknow? There was the same off-brand spinet piano that taught me to share my Jesus-joy songs in front of an audience without wetting my pants.
Well, most of the time, anyway.
It was all I could do not to rush up front and hug that sweet old piano. I remembered Sunday after Sunday, quivering like a leaf in a hurricane, standing before the same long-suffering group of believers, sharing the myriad of songs that Papa God popped like praise popcorn in my head.
Some were good, some not so good, but all were from my heart. They were my best attempt to intimately worship my Creator through the creative outlets He provided me.
I learned so much there: I learned how to perform in front of a crowd (which I now know was training in becoming the professional public speaker I am today). I learned not to attempt to liberate your wedgie while on a platform. I learned how to worship Papa God with the gifts and abilities He’d given me.
And I learned to watch Sarah.
Sarah was a dear, soft-spoken woman a decade my elder. Sarah was an encourager. And she took on a ministry of encouraging me in a very special way.
When I mustered every shred of courage to share one of my newly written songs with that small congregation, Sarah’s was the face I sought. I could count on Sarah’s smile beaming at me, her head nodding, her shoulders swaying to the beat of the music. She was right there alongside me – my biggest (and sometimes only) supporter. At least that was my perception, gazing out at all the stern, serious faces of the frozen chosen staring back at me.
When I feared I would faint, I sang to Sarah.
When I couldn’t remember the words to the song I had written, I made up words for Sarah.
When I made epic blunders and felt judged and choked with tears and thought I’d never make it to the end of the song, I sang to Sarah.
My experience on that platform taught me to always react when someone is putting themselves on the line, sharing something meaningful from their heart.
“Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today’” (Hebrews 3:13 NASB). Encouragement via engagement is such a small thing. It doesn’t hurt to smile; it only helps. Them. You. It costs us nothing to give but may mean the world to the person receiving it. It might even change their life.
It did mine.
To this day, I make it a point to emulate Sarah’s smile whenever someone is sharing from their heart – whether it be preaching, singing, sharing their testimony, or juggling pot-bellied pigs. If they are trying to honor Papa God by it, I’m right there alongside them, and I make sure they know it by my body language.
I wouldn’t have had the guts to pursue a public speaking career (and occasional singing too!) if it hadn’t been for those broad smiles of encouragement from Sarah. Little bits of sincere encouragement at the right time can help someone more than any sermon, Bible Study, or well-meaning self-help book.
Everyone can have a ministry of countenance encouragement. Even you. It’s such a small thing but truly an ENORMOUS impact. Won’t you join me as a smile minister?
“The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped” (Proverbs 11:25 MSG).
About the author: Debora M. Coty is an inspirational speaker, columnist, and award-winning author of over 40 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, with over one million books sold in three languages around the world. Debora lives, loves, and laughs in central Florida where she tries to encourage via engagement every single day. Join Deb and her fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com
Debora’s newest release, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms, addresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.
Join the conversation: How can you offer someone encouragement via engagement today?