It doesn’t matter how you encourage others; it only matters that you do encourage others.
I recently took the 5 Love Languages test and discovered that my primary love language is “words of affirmation.” If you haven’t heard of the 5 Love Languages, it’s a test that helps you understand the ways you feel most loved. Before taking the test I never realized how satisfied I felt when people gave me words of affirmation or encouragement.
In Acts 11 we hear the account of Barnabas in the early church. Barnabas’s real name was Joseph, so Barnabas was just a nickname meaning “son of encouragement.” Even if a person’s primary love language is not words of affirmation they still need to be encouraged. We all, as human beings, need encouragement, and Barnabas gave that encouragement to members of the early church, but he encouraged people in other methods than just words.
A definition of the word encourage is “to give support, confidence or hope.” When someone gives me words of affirmation (encouragement) I gain a sense of confidence in that specific area of my life. Encouragement can be given in other methods than just words, though. In Acts 4:36-37 Barnabas sold a field he owned and brought it to the apostles to assist those in need. I can’t help but image how the people that received that assistance felt. I’m sure they had a sense of support and hope that led them to praise God for provision.
It doesn’t matter how you encourage others; it only matters that you do encourage others. I’m not the best at giving words of encouragement, not because I don’t want to encourage someone through words but because I don’t know what words to say. In fact, it’s common for a person to show love in different ways than they receive love. I tend to show love through acts of service, which is exactly how Barnabas encouraged others by selling his field and giving the money to the church to assist others.
I urge you to discover how you best encourage and then do it. If you’re good at giving words of encouragement, get connected with our Pastoral Care ministry to see how you can use that incredible gift. If you prefer to encourage others through acts of service, contact our Impact ministry to see what needs can be met in our community and throughout the world.