“En-” means to put in or into; “courage” means to be confident and strong, therefore, encourage means to put courage and strength into someone. “Dis-” reverses the word it’s attached to. “Discourage” means to take courage away.

An encouraging person is pleasant to be around because he builds you up and strengthens you by his words, actions, and attitudes. A discouraging person weakens, deprives of hope, and tears down rather than strengthening and building.

Jennifer Rothschild says, “A good compliment gives us a happy buzz. It lifts us like sugar does….a quick buzz and then a let down that makes us look for the next fix to feel lifted again.” She says, “Compliments are sweet but don’t sustain us and compliments flatter us but don’t fuel us.”

Encouragement, unlike a compliment, is when someone acknowledges something that God has already placed within them. You celebrate their strengths and point out their potential. You grant them courage not just flatter them. 1Thessalonians 5:11, says, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” and Hebrews 3:13, says,  “But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today.”

The Holy Spirit is our encourager! John 14:18 says, “I will not leave you comfortless.” He was saying, “I will not leave you encourage-less”. Also, II Corinthians 1:3 says “The God of all comfort” meaning the God of all encouragement.

Nehemiah was an example of an encourager. He saw a need, laid out a plan, and shared his vision. Paul was an example of an encourager. The openings of his letters are full of encouragement and exhortation as he greets his fellow laborers for their faithfulness. Jesus was an encourager. When His disciples and followers were faced with fear, He told them not to be anxious and not to worry, but to trust and have faith that He would provide for them and never leave them.

We are all commanded to be encouragers in scripture. Philippians 2:3-8 says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Romans 12:10-15 says, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

And James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Five Biblical ways we can be an encourager:

  1. Speak the truth in love when asked or needed to give counsel or advice. Our love and care will make all the difference in the world as to whether they receive our words. Ephesians 4:15, says, “But that you, speaking the truth in love, may in all things grow up to Him who is the Head, even Christ.” 
  2. Seek to comfort others during their trial or hardship by sharing what God has done for you to bring them hope.  II Corinthians 1:4, says “He comforting us in all our trouble, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in every trouble, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 
  3. Spark the flames of love through a good deed, an act of kindness or fellowship with them. Hebrews 10:24-25, says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” 
  4. Put courage into someone by quoting a scripture or a word of faith knowing that sin can deceive them and cause them to become stubborn and drawn away by their own thinking. You can send a letter, a card, an email, a text, call them, or visit them. Hebrews 3:12-13, says, “Take heed, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.But exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
  5. Put yourself into their shoes! If they are weeping then weep with them, and if they are rejoicing then rejoice with them. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

John Maxwell said, “If you deprive a soul of oxygen, it shrivels, and it will not develop as God intended. Deprive a soul of encouragement and it will withdrawal into a shell. Deprive a soul of encouragement and it will live out a fearful existence. Deprive a soul of encouragement and it will be unable or incapable of encouraging others; it will be apathetic and cynical, pessimistic and lethargic. In the extreme, it may even wish that it were dead.” 

What do I do if no one is encouraging me when I need it? Perhaps, I have not told anyone about my struggle or trial or I feel there is just no one around who is making an effort to encourage me. This is when we will need to learn to encourage ourselves in the Lord as King David did. I Samuel 30:6 “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”

Ways that David encouraged himself in the Lord:

  1. He wrote Psalms to the Lord. He journaled his heart and shared his honest emotions.
  2. He reflected God’s truth by declaring who God was, his attributes, and character.
  3. He humbled himself with repentance and searched his inner man when he was wrong in spirit.
  4. He praised God for who he was, gave thanks, and worshiped even in the midst of all of his trials with his enemy’s and his personal hardships and discouragements.

As you seek to be an encourager who refreshes others, you will find refreshing as well!

Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous man will prosper; He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” 


Kathy Shaw is a pastor’s wife in Denver, Colorado. She spends her time blogging, writing, and teaching Bible studies, running a Facebook group called “Jesus the Wounded Healer,” reaching out to multicultural groups through outreach, and has served the Colorado District as the Ladies Ministry Secretary the last six years. Her greatest passion is to spiritually help the wounded and those who have come from dysfunctional homes. She writes and teaches with a burden to help them become healed emotionally and grow in the Scriptures and their relationship with God, through which they can find their freedom. You can visit her website at kathyshaw.net

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