After watching Life Stories with Captain Sir Tom Moore last month I was struck again by this remarkable centenarian who has been an encouragement and inspiration to many. His mantra is “It’ll be better tomorrow”. He has inspired both young and old alike to not give up on their goal and pursue it.

If you think you have nothing of real value to offer others, consider the words of an unknown poet:
‘One song can spark a moment; one flower can wake a dream.
One tree can start a forest; one bird can herald spring.
One smile begins a friendship; one handclasp lifts a soul.
One star can guide a ship at sea; one word can frame the goal.
One vote can change a nation; one sunbeam lights a room.
One candle wipes out darkness; one laugh can conquer gloom.
One step can start a journey; one word can start a prayer.
One hope can raise our spirits; one touch can show you care.
One voice can speak with wisdom; One heart can know what’s true.
One life can make a difference; you see … it’s up to you.’

As author Jon Walker says, “Encouragement is part of God’s nature’”.

A story my wife found on Facebook was about a blind boy who would sit on the pavement with a begging bowl and a card sign that read, “I’m blind”. Like the parable of the Good Samaritan, people just tended to walk on by, with only a very few dropping coins in his bowl. One day a man put some money in his bowl and wrote something on his card. Soon more people were dropping money into his bowl. The man returned later, after introducing himself again and the boy asked him what he had written on his card. He replied, “It is a beautiful day but I cannot see it”. It was the same message that the boy was blind but it had a different emphasis.

John C Maxwell wrote: ‘A word of encouragement from a teacher to a child can change a life. A word of encouragement from a spouse can save a marriage. A word of encouragement from a leader can inspire a person to reach her potential.’

When Sir Walter Scott (Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and biographer) was a boy he was considered a great dullard. His accustomed place in the schoolroom was the ignominious dunce corner, with the high-pointed paper cap of shame on his head. When about twelve or fourteen years old he happened to be in a house where some famous literary guests were being entertained.

Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, was standing admiring a picture under which was written the couplet of a stanza. He enquired concerning the author. None seemed to know. Timidly a boy crept up to his side, named the author, and quoted from the rest of the poem. Burns was surprised and delighted. Laying his hand on the boy’s head, he exclaimed, ‘Ah, bairnie, ye will be a great man in Scotland some day’.

From that day, Walter Scott was a changed lad. One word of encouragement set him on the road to greatness.

Zig Ziglar said, “When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you’re making a commitment and difference in that person’s life. Encouragement really does make a difference”.

I read the story of two men who shared a hospital room ended up becoming friends. One was allowed to sit up for an hour every day. His bed was beside the only window. The other man spent his life flat on his back. Each day the man at the window would describe the activity and colour of the outside world: the park overlooking the lake, ducks swimming, children playing, couples walking hand-in-hand, the skyline in the distance. His friend, who could see none of this, smiled and imagined it all in his mind’s eye.

One day the man by the window died and his roommate moved into his place. He propped himself up to look outside and was amazed to see a drab brick wall! Confused, he asked the nurse how come his friend had described the scenery in such glowing terms. She replied, “Actually, he was blind and he couldn’t even see the wall. He just wanted to encourage you”.

The apostle Paul said, ‘Each of us should please his neighbour for his good, to build him up.’ [Romans 15:2]

There is great satisfaction in encouraging people, especially when your own situation is less than ideal.

One author writes: ‘When you tell someone they’re beautiful, you change how they see themselves. A girl in love thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the world because her young man said so. When a teacher tells a student he’s smart, he works harder and achieves more. When a parent tells a child she’s loved, she has confidence to reach for the stars. On the other hand, a doctor who point-blank tells a patient that he’s “terminal” can speed up the death process.’

You have something nobody else can give.

Think about how you can make somebody else’s life better.

Who can you support and strengthen?

Somebody needs your encouragement today … needs to know you believe in them, that you’re for them, that you think they have what it takes to succeed.

Looking back, chances are someone played a pivotal role in helping you get where you are today. A parent or teacher who had confidence in you, or a boss who placed you in a higher position when you didn’t feel qualified, somebody who saw more in you than you saw in yourself.

Words are powerful. Let’s use them to build up and encourage.

Rodney Martin