The Importance of Being Encouraging

Words have such power don’t they? Especially words fed to us as we are growing up. The messages we hear through our teenage years have the potential to stay with us for decades to come.

The words I heard the most when I was a teenager were “You aren’t good enough”. At school I was the outsider, bullied and taunted every single day.

Home wasn’t too different either. My parents were right in the middle of a horrible break up. They had little time to encourage me. My Dad genuinely loved me and wanted the best for me. He wanted for me what he never had himself – academic achievement. But his way of getting the best out of me was to say what I had done wasn’t good enough.

So this phrase embedded itself in my heart. Deep in my subconscious.

The view of myself which formed, and stayed with me, was of someone who no matter how hard he worked, no matter what he achieved, was never, ever going to be good enough.

Even now, every time things even remotely go against me, there is still a voice which says

You aren’t good enough”

This is the power of words.

It is why we need to be careful which people we listen to…and the words we use.

It’s why encouragement is so important.

Criticism, provided it’s constructive, can be useful.

In small doses, it helps sharpen us and shows us where we can improve.

But when taken too far, it’s very dangerous.

And in my experience, people are way too quick to criticise,

and way too slow to encourage. (tweet that here)

I had a bad day recently. One of those days where everything which could go wrong, does go wrong. Small things, big things, all seem to pile on one another. We’ve all had them.

We just miss our train so we’re late for work.

We spill our coffee down our clothes.

We are discouraged by unfair criticism at work.

We get home and find we’ve run out of a key ingredient we need for dinner.

It was one of those days. I was pretty down. This ‘not good enough voice’ was getting plenty of ammunition, and inside I was having a rant at both God and myself.

But then I received a word of encouragement.

I got a message from a good friend calling me “Mr Encourager” and some tweets with some positive feedback from my blog. A post I’d thought wasn’t very special was getting an amazing response.

It was like scales falling from my eyes. Suddenly all the little annoying things vanished. It was as if they never existed. A light came on in the darkness.

My whole day was lit up by just a few encouraging words.

Back when I was younger, after receiving so little encouragement from anyone, I made a decision with myself.

I would take any opportunity I got to encourage.

I would never miss the chance to build someone up. To champion them. To point out the positives. I would never let what happened to me happen to someone else.

If there is a reason I am such an advocate for encouragement now, it’s this.

I cannot bear to see people being put down and constantly criticised in a way which is not helpful. With no one to build them up, support and encourage them. It makes me angry.

You see, if we keep feeding people negative words,

they will remember them…far more than the positives. 

It’s human nature to remember negatives more than positives. So we must seek to encourage one another whenever we can. (tweet that here)

So let’s start today. All of us 

I want to give you a small challenge:

This week, find one person and encourage them.

It doesn’t matter who it is. Simply find a person you know who needs encouraging and gently encourage them.

Then, try to build it up over time. Two next week, three the week after – whatever feels comfortable. Try eventually to get to a point where you’re encouraging at least one person each day.

Also, spread the word. If you’re on Twitter, post some encouraging tweets, with the hashtag #encouragetoday

Let’s begin a movement.

Let’s get this world back into the habit of encouraging. Because if all of us can get into this habit, the world will be a brighter, more positive place. More the kind of world God wants it to be.

So start today.


Would you like to be encouraged more?

How much do you encourage others?

Are you willing to take up my ‘encouragement challenge’?












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What Story are You Telling?

This is My Truth

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  1. Joy Lenton on October 22, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Hi James. This is such an insightful word that we can all relate to. My parental influences also shaped me adversely and I grew up with very low self-esteem, highly critical of myself above all. The damage this sort of early conditioning does is inestimable. Thanks be to God for showing us all that we are In Christ! God’s love and and acceptance have been a crucial part of my own healing processes. 
    These are thoughts that have been affecting me a lot lately and may find themselves on my blog too at some point!I am so grateful for all the wonderful encouragement, support and friendship you have given me since we connected on Twitter. You are a living example of your own challenge.May we all seek to be an encourager and to benefit from it too. Thank you! 🙂

    • James Prescott on October 22, 2012 at 7:46 pm

      Wow. Thanks so much for this incredible comment Joy. You yourself have been a great encouragement to myself as well, thank you so much for your kind words. Let us all make this world a more encouraged place. Be blessed! 

  2. Louise Upchurch on October 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    It is so easy to fall into the trap of negativity. Taking on negativity from others and feeding into it. Encouragement is so important and very lacking. We find it easier to stay silent than offer those few words which could make all the difference.

    I go through fazes of encouragement -texting people, short emails, messages etc and then it stops. It is something we all need a daily reminder to do.

    We all know what it s like to hear those words at the right moment, so let’s create those moments more often, for other people.

    • James Prescott on October 22, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      Great comment Louise, totally agree with you. Thanks for sharing this – and lets all keep encouraging! 🙂

  3. Jennifer Upton on October 22, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    You are so encouraging James, so if this was your goal then you have made it come true! I noticed this about you the first time we connected on Twitter. You are a fine example for all of us! When I first began learning twitter I followed suit to another young man whom thanked me for following him. So now every new “follower” I receive I thank them. To me this is so important…for people to know “Hey I see you and I thank you!” 

    • James Prescott on October 22, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Thanks for encouraging me Jennifer – humbled to hear your comments. Love the way you encourage new followers on Twitter. Thanks for your comment & be encouraged! 

  4. Claire on October 22, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    One of the main things I noticed when I met you on Saturday was that you are encouraging 🙂 I love that it makes you angry when you see people put down. I really needed to hear this today actually, so thank you!

    • James Prescott on October 22, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      Thanks Claire, that’s so encouraging to hear – and brilliant that it spoke right into your need today. Thanks for your comment – I’ll be in touch re: blogging soon!

  5. Tanya Marlow on October 23, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Fab post! I agree that we so often find it easier to tear down rather than build up. Thank you for your honesty in sharing your story and those negative automatic messages that play in your head – they are similar ones to those which play in my head!

    I think a blog can be a constant source of ‘not good enough’ if we’re not very careful… It has been really good for me to constantly remind myself that I am hidden with Christ, and that my standing before God is unchangeably positive, irrespective of anything I do. Sometimes that helps, sometimes it doesn’t!

    Great, engaging writing style too 🙂

    • James Prescott on October 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      Tanya, thanks for your comment and your encouragement. You always offer such great insight and such positive feedback, it means a lot. Great to hear your story of how you need to be encouraged too. 

      Thanks again, be blessed!

  6. Lmccy on October 26, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Encouragement! Powerful! Lmc 

  7. Dave Roberts on October 29, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Let us see if this comment comes through!

  8. Scott Postma on November 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Good word, James. I’m both convicted and encouraged. It’s so easy to let our tongue engage before our brain does. I’m guilty. I’ve felt the stabs of unkind and thoughtless words, and yet I fail to encourage others more often than I succeed. I’m encouraged by your candor and transparency. Thanks for the post. Keep them coming! 

  9. susie finney on November 2, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Great post James!  Appreciate you and your writing!

  10. Anastacia Maness on November 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I really like this post, James. And this was my first time to click the “tweet this here” link.
    I’m going to take up your encouragement challenge. I try to be encouraging but I’ll take an extra step and try to be purposeful about it. 

  11. James Prescott on November 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks Susie – glad to hear you’ve benefitted from my writing. Keep on reading, really value your encouragement!

  12. James Prescott on November 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks for this comment Scott – really great to have you here as part of this community and contributing to the discussion. Will be in touch soon about banners! 🙂

  13. James Prescott on November 3, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Thanks Lmccy!

  14. Sharon Rose Gibson on December 18, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Great post James! You’re so right about the need for encouragement. I love to encourage people and so I welcome your challenge!
    Keep up the good work encouraging people!

  15. Christa Sterken on December 18, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    James, as always, your words touch my heart. So glad to have you now as an encouragement in my life. I hope I can return the favor

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  18. Janine on January 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Hey James 🙂
    Reminds me of Isaiah 49:16 which is always very encouraging. …. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands. …!

    Your life story has always been in His hands and that you have overcome it proves an encouragement for others to overcome too with the help of Jesus!

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  23. Katina Vaselopulos on February 3, 2013 at 1:56 am

    James, you are awsome!

    Your post and your Manifesto are encouraging and inspiring!
    I am blessed and honored to know you.

    Blessings and Light!

    • James Prescott on February 3, 2013 at 7:22 am

      Thanks Katina, wonderful of you to say that. Really appreciate you & your comments. Be blessed! 

  24. annepeterson on February 3, 2013 at 2:48 am

    Great post James. We can never be too encouraged. We live in a world that rarely looks you in the eye, a world that seems to prefer isolation over connection. It is more important that ever before that we lift each other up. Thanks for the reminder, James.

    • James Prescott on February 3, 2013 at 7:22 am

      Thanks Anne, really appreciate this comment – and totally agree with you. Thanks for encouraging me.

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  29. Audra Michelle on March 1, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Thank you, James. I needed these words today. I have that same voice echoing in my head. The causes behind the voice may differ, but the words are the same. We certainly need a movement of encouragement! Thank you for linking up at Thrive @ Home!

    • James Prescott on March 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Thanks for your comment Audra – really appreciate your honesty. Glad the post was able to encourage you – and happy to link up! 🙂

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