E is for…Encouragement
By Shelly Burke
(The posts for the A to Z Blogging Challenge will focus on teaching kids lessons from selected Bible verses. Adapt your teaching to the age of the kids you’re talking with.)
Ask your child what “encouragement” means to him or her. One dictionary defines it as “the expression of approval or support.” I would add, encouragement means trying to make someone feel better if they are upset or sad.
When have your kids felt encouraged? They might remember being praised for a good grade or a good performance in a sporting event, or someone saying something nice to them when they’re feeling down.
Your children might be surprised to hear that the Bible instructs us to encourage others. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” Talk about the end of the verse first. Because it says “just as you are doing,” I think Paul (the writer of Thessalonians) saw that the people were encouraging and building each other up, and he wanted them to continue to do so. Talk with your kids about how they’re encouraging each other already. You might have to get them started by pointing out that saying “good job” or, “I like how you did that!” or, “You can do it!”
What are some other things they can say or do to encourage others? Suggest writing a note to a teacher, telling a friend “good job!” and thanking a sibling for helping with a chore.
Teach your kids how to encourage others during difficult times, like after the death of a loved one or pet. Tell them to say things like, “I’m so sorry!” “I bet you are really sad,” or “I will pray that God helps you to feel better.”
Prompt them to tell teammates “good job” or “we all worked hard,” even when the lose the game.
Remind them that sometimes encouragement means doing something, not just saying something. During a sad time, a hug might say more than words. An encouraging note will be saved and looked at later. Giving someone their favorite snack will brighten their day. A Bible verse, written out with a few words of encouragement, will comfort a friend.
Ask your kids how they feel when they’re encouraged. Chances are they’ll say it feels good! Encourage them to pass on that feeling by encouraging others.