A friend wrote me a note one day, asking me how it was possible for me to be an encouragement to others in the midst of dealing with my own chaos, discouragement, and feelings of failures. She had a brief glimpse into the chaos of life that I was dealing with at the time, and she couldn’t figure out how I was dealing with that and yet managing to turn around and encourage others.
I told her I’d pray on that question, because I honestly had no answer for her. While was glad that I was able to encourage her, I couldn’t put my finger on the reason behind my ability to encourage others in the midst of my own discouraging circumstances. I was at a loss as to how to encourage others when I felt like I was failing.
It’s been months since that question was asked of me, and I’ve pondered it many times. Each time, though, I found myself still at a loss as to how to answer it. What was the reason I was able to encourage others through my own failures? Why was it that I was able to turn life’s lemons into lemonade that I could share with others?
I knew it wasn’t anything special about me. To be honest, if it was up to me, I’d bury myself in my failures and avoid other people altogether. It had to be bigger than me…. and when the answer finally came to me, it was so much bigger than me.
How to Encourage Others When You Feel Like You’re Failing
The answer came from three Scripture passages:
- 2 Corinthians 10:5 “…take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
- 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
- Philippians 4:8-9 “…if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things…”
Years earlier I had memorized each of these Scriptures, and when I was in the midst of my discouragement and chaos – when I felt like I was failing – the Holy Spirit was able to bring them to mind, guiding me into Truth. He impressed on my heart the need to think about what was true – not to focus on my circumstances but to focus on what was real and true about who I am in Christ – helping me to see beyond my circumstances and share His grace with others.
Only when I keep my eyes on Him can I see beyond my circumstances and reach out to others who are hurting around me.
RECOMMENDED READING: SCRIPTURE VERSES TO MEMORIZE THIS YEAR
Encouragement Starts with the Gospel
And honestly, when I’m sharing the Truth with others, I’m preaching it to myself as much (if not more) than I am to them. I need to be constantly reminded of the gospel’s power in my daily life. I need to hear that God is able. I need to be encouraged to draw near to Him and rely fully on His strength each and every moment of the day.
When I’m encouraging others, I’m really just encouraging myself:
- to look hard at Him,
- to take my eyes off my surroundings,
- and to rest fully in His wonderful grace and love.
RECOMMENDED READING: HOW THE GOSPEL CHANGES MOTHERHOOD
Encouragement Comes from Spiritual Discipline
But in order to be a spring of life for others, I have to feed myself first. I have to be in the Word regularly, spend time in prayer, and submit myself to spiritual mentorship. I need to be intentional about memorizing the Word of God so the Holy Spirit can bring it to mind in times of need.
RECOMMENDED READING: SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES FOR THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Next time you feel like you’re failing, stop. Remember what is true: God loves you, and His grace and strength are enough to carry you through.