Perhaps you’re like me and you see so many hurting people that you don’t know how you’re possibly going to reach all of them.
I’ve had to acknowledge that while I want to encourage everyone, I simply don’t have the time or resources to do so. That’s why I have to prayerfully discern who God is inviting me to reach out to.
Here are some general principles that God has guided me to; I wonder what He would share with you as you decide who to encourage.
Those in My Inner Circle
There’s no doubt about it, I am actively focused on how to encourage those in my inner circle. It’s not just a matter of encouraging them when they are having a hard day, but reaching out to them to spur them on and lighten their load as I am able.
I’m often with them in person, and I can see their body language or interaction with others. I can hear about their day and pick up on where they might need some support or care. And I know them well enough to figure out what kind of encouragement they might need and how it will help them.
Trust me, I’m not perfect. But this is where the bulk of my “encouragement energy” goes. They are the people God has entrusted to my care, and I want to be faithful in my care of them.
Some in My Middle Circle
Those in my middle circle, I don’t see quite as much. We might exchange some text messages or see each other on Sunday, or in some cases, the relationship is still developing.
So there are some from this circle that God has prompted me to reach out to and encourage. Sometimes it’s through a card or a text message. I certainly make it a point to lift them up in prayer when I know there is a need they have expressed. And if there’s something else that is being done for them–a meal train, a fundraiser–I try my best to support them through that, too.
In this case, they might not be under my direct care, but they are still in my “circle” and, together with others in their circle, we will care for them. I am often joining with others to express encouragement and support.
Those Who Don’t Have Anyone Else
One of my last questions as I’m discerning whether (or how much) to reach out and encourage someone is, Do they have anyone else there for them?
Some individuals are surrounded with loving family and friends, which is wonderful and such a blessing. Others don’t have a lot of family, or maybe their close friends are unable to help out as much as is needed.
I can’t stand the thought of someone going through a hardship alone. It isn’t right. Even if they aren’t ready to talk or accept offers of help, I can still encourage and support them through notes and letting them know that I care about them–and God does, too.
Whether I “officially” reach out to encourage others or not, I am always praying. Always.
Prayer requests or posts on social media might prompt me to intercede for some people. Or maybe God just brings them to mind, and so I lift them up to Him.
Prayer is a behind-the-scenes ministry, and so most of them may not even know that I am praying for them. But, friends, prayer is the best thing I know to do when someone is hurting. It isn’t a cop-out or lame way to support; it’s going to the One who loves and asking Him to help.
Equipping You to Help
Of course, just because I can’t encourage someone doesn’t mean that you can’t. In fact, I’m counting on you to help.
If we all find some people to encourage, then we share the load and make sure others don’t walk through life alone, thinking that no one cares about them.
“For one thing, there is a distinctive emphasis by Jesus on loving your neighbor, your ‘near dweller,’ not upon loving ‘humanity’ or ‘everyone.’ What this means is that our duty and our virtue is to love those with whom we are in effectual contact–those we can really do something about.”Dallas Willard
So, are you in? Will you care for your “near dwellers” and I’ll care for mine, and together, we’ll make a difference in the world around us.