Thursday thoughts: Be an encourager


Our granddaughter, Mattie, is playing travel softball this summer. She has played rec league for the past couple of years and decided this year to make the move to travel ball. On her team the girls are all pretty much “first time” travel ball players.

I say this with all love and respect but you “might” be able to tell they are all a little new at the travel ball scene. The last two weekends Mattie’s tournaments have been near our house, which has allowed us to be able to watch several of her games. The amazing and encouraging part I have seen from watching her games is the team camaraderie. They might not be the best team or win the most games but they are so supportive of each other. You would never know by their actions and cheering that they could be losing the game. They are the true definition of team spirit and camaraderie.

The definition of camaraderie is it gives a feeling of friendliness, goodwill, and familiarity among the people in a group. They constantly cheer for each other and honestly there is no difference in their level of encouragement whether the teammate gets a great hit or strikes out. They stand at the fence of the dugout and just encourage and cheer their hearts out.

I don’t know about you but those are the people I want to be around and also those are the type of people I need to strive to emulate. I think about 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” Don’t we all need encouragement in our life? I know I do.

If I look around it seems like everyone I know, myself included, is going through something difficult, stressful, or maybe just struggling. Here are a few of my thoughts that might help us all to be encouraged and to be encouraged.

First, encouragement offers support to the weary in the waiting. To me there is nothing more draining than waiting. I think I have said that we have been and are still waiting for an answer to my husband’s application for disability. It was actually filed back in February of 2023. It has been a long and tedious process, and to be honest we are tired and weary. Wayne will say he sometimes feels like they just “want” you to give up on the application.

Encouragement during this process has helped us both immensely in being able to persevere. We know it is out of our control but just when we seem to be so tired and discouraged someone will send a note, call us, or text and say they are praying for us. This might seem like a little thing but actually little things go a long way. Just a little encouragement can speak life into a hard situation or a hard day. Encouragement can be the spark that will ignite your weary soul and provide energy to keep going. Encouragement from others makes your struggles a little easier because you know someone cares.

The girls on Mattie’s team know how to encourage a teammate. Their support inspires each person to reach their full potential and to keep trying. As believers, we should all look for opportunities to spread the same encouragement to those we come in contact with on a daily basis. Encouragement allows you to give and receive support to continue walking and trusting when you are tired and weary.

Another thing I see encouragement offers is the opportunity to have hope. The girls on Mattie’s team do not focus on the negative. They do not make you feel bad if you strike out or make a bad play. They keep cheering offering hope for the next time when it’s your turn to bat or play in the field. When we are encouraged or give encouragement it allows us to replace fear and worry in our situation with hope – the hope to trust and wait expectantly on God.

Receiving and giving encouragement changes our perspective. It provides hope to change our fear to faith and our worry to trust. Hope in God allows us to set our minds and hearts on the positive future and remove our negative worries. Hope is what gets us through the hard situations we face. Isaiah 40:31 says “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

As believers, we can encourage others to have the hope that will transform their life – the hope only God can provide. We can be encouraged and should encourage others to focus on the strength of God in challenging times. No matter how difficult or hard our situation might be, when we put our hope in God we are provided with faith and strength to continue. Encouragement offers hope.

The last thing I see that encouragement offers is change – a change in attitude and action. I wish I could send you a recording of the girls on Mattie’s team where you could hear all the cheering. These girls are the best cheerleaders and their cheers produce change. You look at this team and you see they are supportive, united, and they just have a great time. When we encourage others we offer them an opportunity to change and really it changes us as well.

Encouragement can give us joy whether we are the one who is giving it or we are on the receiving end. Encouragement produces a change in your attitude. Have you ever known someone to feel bad after they were encouraged? I haven’t. When I am encouraged it changes the way I am thinking and acting. It can make a person feel happier and confident.

I can still remember specific times that people have encouraged me and exactly what they said. I save cards or notes where people have encouraged me and at times I go back and reread them. They actually can be uplifting and motivational.

When we are going through a tough season we tend to feel discouraged. When God sends someone to encourage us it’s like an instant pick-me-up. In Proverbs 25:11 it says “The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver.” We all need encouragement and we all should be encouraged.

My challenge to you is to look for opportunities to encourage those around you. Be a cheerleader for others. You never know what impact the encouraging words you speak today will have on someone else’s life. We don’t even have to know what they are facing or what trial they may be walking through. We just need to make a conscious choice to allow God to use us and our words to make a difference.

That’s what Mattie’s ball team is doing – using their words to make a difference. I don’t know if you ever have a chance to watch a girls' softball game but if you do you will see some great cheerleaders and teammates. If you happen to see a cute blonde-headed girl with the number 20 on her jersey playing shortstop it could be my granddaughter. I just might have to get her to teach me some of those cheers or, better yet, maybe make up some of my own. The ones I will use will be the ones that support, give hope, and produce a change in attitude and action. I’m sure God will teach me those if I just ask and listen.


Jill Johnson, a staff member at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, finds spiritual applications in her everyday experiences as a wife, mother, grandmother and Georgian. She is available to speak to your church's women's gatherings. Reach her at