How can be encourage others without resorting to the standard, “Good job!” What can we do that will be both specific and encouraging to the individual?
Rowland Forman answers these questions in a chapter entitled, “Affirming,” in his book, The Lost Art of Lingering: Mutual Mentoring for Life Transformation. While he offers suggestions as to how to encourage those you are mentoring, the ideas could be adapted to any situation and relationship.
- When you see a God-like character quality in someone, tell them then and there. Don’t wait for the perfect moment.
- Review what the person means to you. Compose an email that affirms a Christ-like quality in them.
- Choose or make a card and write it out in your own hand. Strange, but I’ve found that nowadays a handwritten card can be more impactful than an email.
- When you get to your car after a mentor-meeting, take a couple of minutes to compose an encouraging text.
- Next time you meet, have a gift such as a book you have bought for your friend and do the Howie Hendricks thing: write words of encouragement in the flyleaf.
- Think of something practical you can do for you mentor-friend, such as recommending them to a prospective employer. Don’t just do it, tell them that this is just another way of showing what they mean to you.
- Email or text them with a prayer you are praying for them. My mentor-friend Earl Lindgren signs off his emails with: “Look for the best, not the worst. Look for all you can praise God for and be glad about.”
- Stop and pray now, asking God to change you to be more affirming.
- Ask your mentor-friend what their “Encouragement Languages” are.
- Ask God to make you as (wise, kind, faithful, enthusiastic, etc.) as someone you know who excels at that quality. Then tell that person you are praying that way.