A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

The Power Of Encouragement

November 12th, 2008

It happened to me twice last week.

Both times completely unexpected.

One from a friend. One from a total stranger.

Both times brought tears to my eyes.

Handwritten notes of appreciation and encouragement.

When is the last time you were on the receiving end of genuine encouragement? Isn’t it a wonderful mix of good feelings? Someone noticed. Someone cares. Someone took time to say so. Encouragement validates us. We are worth something. We have a place in the world and in the lives of others. Encouragement invigorates us going forward. We press on, this time with more purpose and renewed commitment. Because someone cared enough to say we’re making a difference. 

In my Grandparent’s day, a handwritten note was the preferred method of communicating appreciation, if only because they didn’t have our technology. Today we have phone, email, text, electronic greeting cards and, if all else fails, face to face conversations. I still think a handwritten note is the best. My handwriting was never good and years of typing most everything has made it worse. Yet there is something special about a handwritten note. Thoughts expressed with ink on paper feel more intimate than laser printed Ariel 12-point font. Handwriting is an expression of personality. And it takes more thought, more care, to pen a letter. Perhaps that’s what makes it special. I send handwritten thank you notes to my customers, even if it does take them 20 minutes to decipher my scrawl.

The medium isn’t as important as the message. Phone, note or card, are you encouraging people on a daily basis? If not, why not?

The beauty of encouragement is that it can’t be overdone. Encouragement is the Vitamin C of relationships; you can’t give too much of it and the receiver can’t overdose on it. And like Vitamin C, none of us get enough of it.

Pull up your contact list on your cell phone. Guaranteed that every one of those people would be blessed to have you call and say, “I just wanted you to know I appreciate your friendship.” If someone called you and said that, how much better would your day be?

As much as the people in your life need to hear your appreciation, the beauty of encouragement is that it is not contingent upon relationship. You can encourage a total stranger. 

In March of 1992 while living in Iowa I was watching the weather forecast on Channel 9 in Sioux City. Tom Peterson was the meteorologist there. A fine weather man and a beloved person in Northwest Iowa. It was late March, he said, and spring was on the way. That little blip on the radar was going to be nothing more than a “light flurry” that would barely even dust the ground.

The next day I was thinking about Tom’s prediction while bent over my scoop shovel for half an hour. We got absolutely dumped on with a heavy wet snow. I figured Tom would be eating some serious crow. I also figured that he had a good sense of humor so I decided to drop him a note.

“Tom – Was thinking about you today while scooping all 8 inches of your “light flurry” off my driveway. It must be nice to get paid even when you miss a storm the size of Montana. Would it help you tighten up your forecasting accuracy to work on commission? Seriously, you’re doing a great job. God still controls the weather and even experts like you can’t see ‘em all coming. Best regards, tat”

I got a note back in the mail the next week. It said,

“Todd – Thanks for your letter. It certainly brightened up a dreary (forecast to be sunny by noon) day! – Tom.”

That simple exchange of notes was between two people who had never met but the end result was a mutual encouragement. This note came to mean more to me about 18 months later when Tom Peterson was killed in a car accident during a blizzard. Which raises a sobering point.

The best time to encourage is always “now”. Not “later”. Do it now when it comes to mind. Do it now while you’re thinking about it. Do it now, when the person crosses your mind. Do it now when you observe someone hurting. Do it now when you see someone who deserves to be recognized for their efforts. Do it now when you think about the person who helped you become the person you are. Do it now.

We spend so much time on tasks that really don’t matter. Much of what we do could be put off indefinitely. Cleaning the garage can always wait. Encouragement should never be procrastinated. Encouragement should always be done now.

Simply put, we never know how many opportunities we’ll have to encourage people.

Do it now.

Now go make someone’s day.

Flatter me, and I may not believe you.
Criticize me, and I may not like you.
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.
Encourage me, and I will not forget you.

– William Arthur Ward


Todd A. Thompson – www.ASliceOfLifeToGo.com