Day 19: An Encouraging Word

Welcome to the 25 Days of Giving. Each day we’ll focus on a different way you can teach your kids to give to others. If you missed the start of this series, you can find it here. Put the focus on giving instead of getting at Christmas this year because Jesus was a gift to us. Join in the fun by reading each day, then posting in the comments ways that you help your kids give to others at Christmas. Don’t forget to share this series with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

I have two kinds of kids in my house: one is a natural-born encourager; the other one, not so much. My older daughter encourages others without thinking about it. She's the first to step in and help someone else and the first to notice when someone is hurting. My younger daughter has to be encouraged to encourage.

And it's my younger daughter I was targeting with yesterday's day of giving. The directions were to intentionally set out to encourage someone during the day. My younger daughter tends to be a glass half empty kind of girl. She likes to jump to the worst possible conclusion and sometimes expects others to disappoint her. She doesn't naturally seek to encourage other people, so I knew this one would be hard for her.

When she came home from school, I asked her whom she had encouraged during the day. "Well, um ..." was her response. After a few minutes of serious pondering, she said, "Well, I called someone a coward." Clearly, we have some work to do in the encouragement department.

"That's not encouraging," I said. "That's actually discouraging. Who did you encourage today?"

"Well, I told someone they did a good job when we were playing a game, and I told someone else they were funny."

"Did you tell them they were funny in a good way?" I asked.

"Yes, of course," my daughter answered in a tone that clearly implied she couldn't understand why I would ask that question.

While I was hoping for more out of this day of giving, I decided that those two words of encouragement weren't a bad place to start, although I think this day of giving may become a regular fixture in our house. "Who did you encourage today?" will become a daily part of the dinner-table conversation.

It's important for our kids to learn to encourage others. It focuses them on building others up and not tearing them down. It helps them to notice other people and their needs.

We want our families to live out the words of Hebrews 3:13: "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." Encouraging others helps to keep them from sin. It lets them know we care. It may be the best part of their day to know that someone noticed them.

An encouraging word is a gift that's easy to give -- it costs nothing, but it's worth is priceless. Make it a point to encourage someone today. Yours may be the only encouraging word they hear.