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Mary's Musings: Encouragement

By Mary Bridges, Chaplain

Encouragement is love in action. When you encourage someone, you’re helping them develop. When the writers of the scriptures describe encouragement, it means calling someone to your side in order to teach, comfort, strengthen or push them to act.

We all need this kind of active love in our lives, and now more than ever. For this reason, I try to speak words of encouragement to those who need uplifting.

As I was cleaning out some of my files, I found an article from 2015 that is worth sharing again. It illustrates the importance of being an encourager to all that we meet.

It is a common practice at military academies for the upperclassmen to give new first-year students a hard time. As a second-year student at the U.S. Military Academy, Kansas native Dwight David Eisenhower participated in this kind of initiation. One day a plebe, as freshmen were called, bumped into Eisenhower. Such an act was unpardonable, so Eisenhower responded as expected, yelling and screaming at the young cadet. Searching for the most demeaning thing he could utter, Eisenhower said the plebe looked like a barber. The freshman drew himself up to his full height, squared his shoulders, thrust forth his jaw, and responded that he was a barber. It was as a barber that he had supported his family prior to coming to West Point.

Devastated, Eisenhower returned to his room. He retold the incident to his roommate, confessing, "I've just done something that was stupid and unforgivable. I managed to make a man ashamed of the work he did to earn a living." In his autobiography, Eisenhower wrote that for him this was a lesson about "the lack of consideration for others." In his room that day, Eisenhower vowed never to demean another individual again. It was a promise he kept throughout his life, even as supreme commander of the Allied forces during the Second World War and as the 34th president of the United States. He became an encourager, and it showed in the effectiveness of his leadership.

“Encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

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