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Your Words Can Change a Life

Learn the far-reaching power of “in-couragement.”
Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier
Your words can change a life

This past weekend, I was going through some old pictures. There, in the midst of them, was a crisply folded note from 42 years ago. Here’s what it read:

April 30, 1981

Dear Greg,

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

I wanted to let you know how very proud I am of you and the excellent job you did preaching the Word of God. Your hours of preparation will never be in vain, as I know many people were encouraged and challenged to do more for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Greg, you did a great job! Thank you!!

His servant and yours for the Gospel,

Pastor Ken

Put the “courage” in encouragement

This was a short note, a mere 118 words, but these words have impacted me for the past four decades. To be honest, I didn’t remember the note’s exact words. But I did remember receiving the note, I remembered that Pastor Ken was proud of me, and I remembered being encouraged.

The word encourage in Middle English (the form of English spoken in the Middle Ages) was sometimes spelled incourage. The idea was (and still is) to infuse courage into someone else.

That’s what Pastor Ken’s note did to me.

He was the one who taught me to preach, when I was 12 years old. He was the one who took a group of us through Biblical Preaching by the late, great Haddon Robinson. Pastor Ken even had us practice our expository sermons in front of each other.

And he in-couraged each one of us. He told us what we were doing well and what we could do better the next time.

Encouragement = empowerment

But Pastor Ken wasn’t the only one who encouraged me. Pastor “Yankee” Arnold—who led my uncle Jack to Christ, starting a chain reaction throughout the rest of my family—gave me opportunities to preach in youth group and even “big church” from time to time. And every time he would in-courage me!

I think of Mark, George, Renee, Brenda, Mary Ann, and so many others—adult leaders in my church who in-couraged me, not only to preach but also to exegete the Word and execute the Great Commission.

The adult youth leaders in this church didn’t look at teenagers as a necessary evil but as a necessary mission force. They inspired and empowered us to make disciples who made disciples. So that’s what we did!

Encouragement’s ripple effect

That’s probably why we had 800 teenagers in our youth group. And that’s why I’ve been leading the movement at Dare 2 Share for the past 32 years. By God’s grace, we’ve sought to in-courage millions of teenagers and youth leaders to advance the Gospel in their spheres of influence.

Pastor Ken’s note and all the other little encouragements to me from leaders I met along the way have led to a ripple effect that’s had a global impact for God’s glory.

So pull a “Pastor Ken” with those around you. Write a note. Send a text. Look in someone’s eyes and give them heartfelt and authentic encouragement. Forty years from now, they may look at it and, as I did, breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for your kind words.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 

Ephesians 4:29

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