The Importance of Encouraging Words

This weekend I saw “The Pursuit of Happyness”, starring Will Smith and his son, Jaden. Will plays Chris Gardner, a down on his luck salesman pursuing his dream of becoming a stockbroker. Plagued by financial hardships and tired of Chris’ dream chasing, his wife moves to New York, leaving Chris to raise their five year-old son, Christopher (played by Jaden), on his own. Through a series of mishaps, Chris and his son find themselves homeless, living in shelters and at times in subway bathrooms. Still, Chris continues to pursue his dream. (Warning: This movie is a definite tearjerker–bring kleenex if you see it!)

While the movie provided lots of food for thought, one scene in particular really stuck with me. Chris and his son are playing basketball, which little Christopher loves to do. Chris tells his son not to expect to be a great ballplayer, because he was only an average player, so Christopher would most likely follow in his footsteps and not be a standout player. Although Chris means well (i.e., doesn’t want to get his son’s hopes up), Christopher is immediately discouraged and doesn’t want to play basketball anymore.

Realizing the effect that his words have had on his son, Chris turns to Christopher and tells him not to listen to anyone–including his own father–tell him that he can’t do something.

Honesty in any relationship is extremely important to me. It’s vital to have friends who “speak the truth in love” and who are willing and able to tell you what you sometimes need to hear, even though it may not be what you WANT to hear.

I believe it’s equally important to have people in your life who believe you can do anything and who encourage you in that. My success in life is due to the support and encouragement of family and friends, people who love me, and their willingness to show that they believe in me. That doesn’t mean I haven’t failed–believe me, I have, many times–but knowing that they are on my side helps me pick myself up much faster and try again.

We can all probably think of times in our life when we really needed to hear someone say that they believed in us, and we heard it. And there also are probably times when we didn’t get the encouragement we needed.

Take inventory of the people in your life. How many believe in you? How many encourage you? Are you spending the majority of your time with people who encourage or discourage you?

And how are YOU showing the people that you love that you believe in and encourage them?

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)

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