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encouragementTherefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

In this first blog series I am describing my personal and professional code by using the acronym “HIGHER”, as in “A Higher Education”, which is HBU’s slogan www.hbu.edu So far I’ve made it to “HIGH” having discussed Humility, Integrity, and Glorify Him. Now I will talk about the “E”, Encouragement.

There is an old expression, “If somebody does something good, tell them and make two people happy”. I believe this is true. If I had to list my strongest spiritual gift, I would have to say it is the gift of encouragement. I can look on the bright side of almost any situation and find something encouraging or positive to say.

Nothing feels better to me than hearing one of my students or colleagues say that something I said or did had a positive impact on them. I receive so much more encouragement by being told the simple, specific, and sincere truth about my actions than I do from the sometimes canned “atta girl”, “way to go”, and “you got this”. Of course if those common expressions had a short follow up sentence describing what I did to deserve them in the first place, I would be truly encouraged.

I get a great deal of joy from telling my faculty and staff that they have done well at something, even something routine and mundane. The simple, specific, but sincere encouragement can transform an ordinary event into a personal victory, no matter how small. Victories are to be recognized and celebrated, especially during bad times. God is praised and He is glorified. I love to share my team’s individual and group accomplishments with the rest of the school. Sometimes they feel awkward or embarrassed by my sharing, but they understand that I want them to be recognized for their work and their achievements. It is not boastful. It is realistic and specific recognition for something.

As a leader and a teacher it would be easy to give false praise to the team or to students, but I am not talking about that. I am not easily impressed, especially with low quality work. But even in that situation, it is possible to give the same simple, specific, yet sincere encouragement regarding progress toward meeting expectations.

Healthcare providers are often tempted to encourage clients or their families in the form of false hope. Some variation of “it’s okay” may be delivered to lift a person’s spirits, but since “okay” is a relative term, it almost never produces the intended effect. Most caregivers do not want to deceive or downplay clients’ feelings and fears by using those words, rather to show that they care and are trying to help them look on the bright side of probably a very bad situation. For most caregivers, overuse of the phrase is an effort not to say the wrong thing and create more distress for the client.

The better encouragement is to “be” with the clients, to listen if they want to talk, and to say nothing. Demonstrating encouragement by being available is simple, specific, and sincere. It shows caring instead of fear of saying the wrong thing. It builds others up. And God is glorified.

Next time, respect.