“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” —Hebrews 13:3

As we see from this verse, encouragement is one of the most powerful relationship tools on earth. It elicits the two most important characteristics that make friendships flourish. First, it softens hearts. When your heart is soft toward God and others, you will find it easier to trust and be vulnerable.

Secondly, encouragement opens you up to hear and accept what is true. Deceit will separate even the best of friends, but an environment of truth will raise everyone’s confidence. We can harness the power of encouragement with our friends by following these steps.

1. Realize The True Meaning Of Encouragement

The word for encouragement used in Hebrews 13:3, “paraklesis,” is what we call a compound word in the Greek language. The first word is “para,” which means alongside. “Klesis” means calling. Encouragement, therefore, means “called alongside,” with the goal of bringing out the best in those around you.

2. Recognize That The Holy Spirit Is The Great Encourager

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” —John 14:16-17

The word “advocate” is the Greek word “paraklete,” which means one called alongside. In other words, the Holy Spirit is an encourager by nature. When we commit to be encouragers also, we join with Him in the work He is already doing. His power is what causes hearts to soften and truth to abound in response to our input.

3. Remind Your Friends Of Their Areas Of Strength

Just this week, I spoke with a friend of mine who was being criticized for his strengths. “You are too busy. You have too much energy. You have too much passion. You help too many people.” If you haven’t noticed, these are remarkable strengths in his life. Because others couldn’t keep up with him, they chose to criticize. In contrast, my friendship with him grew as I pointed out these are actually some of the best traits in his life.

4. Rejoice When Your Friends Succeed

Everyone you know is going to accomplish something worthwhile this year. When it happens, celebrate the victory. Resist the urge to ask, “What about me? When do I get to succeed?” Instead, let your words proclaim that you are proud of your friend.

5. Hang With Your Friends When They Suffer Setbacks

Everyone you know is also going to suffer some type of unwanted circumstance this year. It may be a financial challenge, a career setback, the loss of a loved one, disappointment in a relationship or a personal mistake. When this happens, your friends need a team. They will be tempted to isolate themselves and may be embarrassed. They need to know that somebody believes in them despite the setback. They may even need to borrow your confidence or your faith while they adjust. They probably don’t need answers right away, but they definitely need the presence of others who value them and believe better days are ahead.

My friend who was being criticized by others is a verbal processor who figures out how he is doing by talking his way into discernment. When I pointed out his strengths, I knew encouragement had taken hold because he was at a loss for words! Choose to encourage your friends and be amazed as hearts soften and truth takes hold in people’s choices.

You may also be interested in The Power of Greeting Friends: 3 Ways To Give A Warm Welcome

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