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Adding to first day nerves, the interim president and CEO summoned me to his office to discuss an upcoming publication. Laura volunteered to accompany me to the meeting and I accepted her offer in an instant. I can be brave and independent, but at that moment I reeled with insecurity. I remember very little from that meeting, except for me trying to sound intelligent while I assessed the situation and proposed an idea.
On our way back to the marketing department, I asked Laura if she was fine with the way that I expressed opinions during the meeting ... remember, my tenure was all of four hours old.
Her sincere reply instilled me with confidence and became one of the most influential compliments I have received.
" Angela, you did great. You just make things better wherever you go."
Laura is an authentic encourager. That is how she works, leads and lives. Although our roles have changed and she is no longer my boss, she remains a friend and an inspiration.
The New Testament Greek word for encouragement is parakaleo, which literally means "to call along side." It was often used when writing about battle and meant to strengthen someone by bringing them the appropriate aid.
It is my heart's desire to encourage a wounded world. But, to be brutally honest (and I need to be), my motivation for encouraging others is sometimes blurred by selfishness and pride. Sometimes I encourage with the intent to receive some sort of emotional accolade in return.
Most of the time, I am genuine in my efforts. But there have been moments when encouraging felt like hard work ... and times when encouraging did not bring joy to my heart. I now know that if encouraging someone else does not bring joy to my heart (and I mean joy, not bubbly, syrupy, happiness - although encouraging others can lead to that as well) and if it makes me feel burnt out, then I am simply not doing it right. Oh, I may be doing and saying the right things, just not with the right motives.
The purpose of true encouragement is to affirm, console and challenge others to keep going forward. As a Christian, I am called to encourage others in the faith. Spurring someone on so I can garner feelings of value is not how Paul intended his words written in Hebrews to be interpreted. Instead, I must humbly put the needs or others before my own ... love them ... and then inspire them as they continue the journey.
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Hebrews 10:23-25 NASB.