No one ever said that encouraging others was going to be easy, even if it comes to you more naturally. In fact, sometimes it’s downright challenging. And one of the biggest challenges I hear about today is, “I don’t have the time to help out.”
While there are certainly seasons where time to serve will be limited, if we have the desire to encourage others–to care for them during difficult times–we must be willing to make time to help.
Let’s take a look at how time impacts our level of encouragement, and then we’ll look at ways to create margins in our schedule during this season of our lives.
Time to Pray
One of the biggest ways we can encourage others is praying for them, whether they know about it or not.
Prayer Nudges: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been prompted to pray for someone during the day, or even as I go to sleep at night. It’s all too easy to pass over that nudge with a “I’ll add her to my prayer list tomorrow.” And before I know it, it’s out of my mind.
I’ve learned (well, I’m still learning) that when God nudges me to pray, it’s best to stop and pray right then and there. Perhaps she is going through a trial at that very moment and needs spiritual support to sustain her. And so I stop and pray. (Yep, it might cost you some sleep, too.)
Prayer for Discernment: We also need to pray as we seek the best way to come alongside our friend. What is it that she needs? How am I wired to help? It is as we spend time with God and lift up these questions that He reveals the best course of action to take.
Prayer in Person: And then there is time praying with the individual in person. Are we willing to stop and pray with her instead of, again, adding her to our own private prayer list?
Time to Be Present
Speaking of being in person, sometimes the best support we can show someone is the gift of our presence. Just sitting with her in the hurt without saying anything. Being around. Being available.
Do you have the time to be in her house with her? To sit with her at church? To run errands with her? Whatever it is she needs, are you available? Or are you too busy to be able to offer the gift of your presence?
Time to Serve
Oftentimes, encouraging someone might mean doing something for her, even if she is not there to experience it directly. Things like cleaning her house, writing her a note, picking out a gift for her, picking up her groceries, and cooking her a meal.
Are you willing to give of your time, even if she doesn’t even know it was you? Even if you never get to talk with her?
Creating Margin in Your Schedule
Many of us need to create some margin in our schedules if we want to be available to encourage others during the moment of hurt.
It doesn’t mean we don’t have appropriate boundaries in place, but it does mean that we’re able to respond in a timely manner that communicates just how much we value her and her friendship with us.
- Is there a commitment that you need to step back from?
- Is there a hobby that can get placed on hold for this season?
- Can you delegate some of your responsibilities at home to free up time for you to be there with your friend?
Some encouragement takes longer blocks of time, such as driving someone to a doctor’s appointment, waiting for her, and then driving her home. Some encouragement can be tucked into the smaller spaces in our schedule, like writing a note and sticking it in the mail.
- Where are the open spaces in your schedule right now? Are they large or small?
- What kind of open spaces do you need right now to encourage those around you? What kind of time do you need to free up?
- Do you need to coordinate your schedule with your friend’s, or are your encouragement tasks something you can do on your own time?
We can’t encourage others if we don’t leave ourselves a little time. Take a look at your schedule this week and do an honest evaluation. Then take it to God in prayer and ask Him if anything needs to change.
Want to learn more?
Check out our free Called to Encourage training. Lesson 4 of the “Stretcher Bearer” module takes a closer look at the many costs involved in the ministry of encouragement.