This is part two of a three-part post that identifies and fleshes out seven characteristics of life-giving people. If you haven’t read part one, go here.
So, I seriously underestimated how depleting last week would be. That’s not a complaint; it’s a confession. It was our three kids’ first full week at a new school… Joni started a new job at that same school… we celebrated Lilly’s eleventh birthday (by hosting a sleepover with three of her friends!)… and I preached Sunday.
Oh yeah, there’s one more thing — I had chemo.
By Sunday night, our collective energy was drained down to about 2%. In the midst of our chaos, God filled our tanks at just the right times. Let me tell you about one of those moments.
It was Tuesday — day two of chemo. I was at home being infused with a drug called 5-FU (yes, I know how bad that sounds). My dear friend Tony sent me a text at 10:00am asking if he could stop by to visit. Before I responded, I put the phone down to gather my thoughts. Here’s where my mind went:
I’m worn out and my appetite is non-existent. Should I hang out with someone while I feel this way? Do I have the energy to do this? Should I tell him no?
But wait a minute…
Tony is a life-giver. I have never walked away from a meeting with him feeling depleted or discouraged. He is 70-years-old and yet he talks about Jesus with childlike wonder. His chin quivers when he shares his testimony. I love the way he cherishes and honors his wife of 48 years. I have learned so much about God, family, the Bible, and life in general by just watching him be who he is. Being around Tony fills me up.
I picked up the phone and texted him back. “Come on over, my friend.” Tony arrived a few minutes later and pulled up a chair at my kitchen table. While I drank Gatorade and ate Frosted Flakes, Tony asked questions and told stories. 75 minutes flew by like 15. After he left, my spirit was lifted and I somehow felt more empowered to persevere through the remainder of my treatment.
I love spending time with life-giving people! As you think about the impact your life has on others, consider these qualities…
4) Life-giving people are encouraging.
The background of the word “encourage” fascinates me. If you trace it all the way back to its origin, you’ll discover that it literally means, in-courage. When we encourage others, we put courage inside them. After spending time with an encourager, you feel more resilient and fearless. An encourager can shift your thinking from “I can’t handle this…” to “I’VE GOT THIS!” A simple word of encouragement can change the trajectory of someone’s week.
Let me ask you a question — Do you know what your spouse, kids, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and total strangers all have in common? They need encouragement. Every single one of them. They don’t just need it in a general sense… they need it specifically from you.
Have you ever noticed that when you encourage someone else that you feel encouraged yourself? Why do you think that’s the case? I think it’s God’s way of saying, “Yes! This is what I want for you.”
Anybody can encourage someone else. I don’t care if you’re introverted or extroverted, loud or quiet, reserved or expressive, organized or messy, it doesn’t matter. Resolve to become an encourager and watch what God does in your soul!
“Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
5) Life-giving people are hopeful.
Think Tigger; not Eeyore. They look at the future and see good on the horizon. For genuinely hopeful people, the phrase “The best is yet to come” isn’t an empty cliche or wishful thinking… it’s a soul-deep conviction rooted in the story of Jesus. Hope-challenged Christians have always been a mystery to me. I know life gets hard and struggles are real and faith is tested and trials can bring us to our breaking point. Dreams are shattered and losses can devastate us. I not only understand these harsh realities; I’ve tasted them for myself.
There’s a big difference between acknowledging your pain and being defined by it. The victim mentality is toxic. Whatever you do, don’t go there.
I also know that Christianity was born in an empty tomb. Followers of Jesus should be the most hopeful people in the world! If we believe what we say we believe, our lives will be marked by unyielding, supernatural hope… the kind of hope that’s so uncommon and unmistakable that it demands an explanation. This hope can’t be faked or worked up. It is given by the God of hope. You know it when you have it and you can see in others.
By the way, I think most people would rather hear us explain our hope than defend our faith. What do you think?
“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15
by Dr. Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick
Many people believe that discipleship is important, but they need help. In fact, the vast majority of Christians report that they have never been personally discipled by a more mature follower of Jesus. Is it any wonder that they have a difficult time knowing how to disciple others?
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