Michael Josephson tells how the students at Sandy’s high school were badly shaken by the news that a classmate had just committed suicide.
He left a note saying, “It’s hard to live when nobody cares if you die.” Realising this was both a traumatic event that needed to be confronted, and a teachable moment, a teacher talked to the students about how important it is that people feel valued. He told them to imagine that they were about to die. Then he gave an assignment: “Write a note to tell someone how important he or she is to you.”classroom writing
Sandy, who had a rocky relationship with her mother, was especially moved by the idea that she might die without telling her mom how important she was, so she wrote a note:
“We’ve had some rough times and I know I haven’t been a very good daughter, but I know I’m lucky to have you in my life. You are the best person I’ve ever known. Thanks for not giving up on me.”
She told her mom about the assignment and gave her the note. Her mom cried and hugged Sandy, but said little.
The next morning Sandy found a note on her mirror.
“Dearest daughter,” it said, “I want you to know how much you are valued. Being your mother is the most important thing in my life. The truth is that I’ve felt like such a failure – I was seriously considering ending it all. I thought you’d be better off without me. Your appreciation makes my life worth living.”
Is there somebody close to you that has never felt appreciated? Someone who feels that life is not worth living? Someone who desperately needs to hear words of encouragement and appreciation from you? If truth be told, we all need encouragement. We all need to feel appreciated. As Sandy learned, it can make a big difference.
The power of encouragement
There is tremendous power in words of encouragement. Power to motivate, transform, and shape the future of an individual. Never underestimate the guidance that you give by the words that you speak, or do not speak.
Jesus spoke to a woman at a well, and her life, as well as the lives of her neighbours, experienced a miraculous change. Peter preached at Pentecost and 3,000 souls came to salvation through Faith.
On April 21, 1855, Edward Kimball went into a Boston shoe store and led young Dwight Moody to Christ. This resulted in him becoming one of history’s greatest evangelists, a man whose ministry still continues through the work of the Moody Bible Institute.
You may never be able to stir the masses with your eloquent preaching. You may never inspire the crowds with your beautiful singing. You may not have the ability to organise and administer some mega-church or major mission organisation. But you can make a huge difference in the lives of others through the ministry of encouragement. It is the most valuable, the most Christ-like, and the most useful service you can perform in your local Christian community.
The Bible says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
William Barclay wrote, “It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise, or thanks, or appreciation, or cheer, has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”