I came to realize just how powerful an encouraging word is when I started running.

I usually hit the pavement about 3-5 times a week and put in training runs. Just me and the road … with my phone and running app that logs my miles.

Periodically, I’ve tried to push it and do some sprints. I’ve also tried to see how quickly I can run a mile or even a 5K (3.1 miles) during my training runs.

Yet, when the discomfort of the run begins to set in, my brain begins to yell at my body to slow down. To keep from slowing down, I have to engage in some mental warfare. I force my mind to tell my mind (confusing, huh?) that I’m not stopping. Running isn’t simply a physical sport. There is a huge mental aspect to it.

On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed running in quite a few races. That is an entirely different story. My best times have occurred in races.

In fact, it’s generally understood that you can take a minute or more off of your average training pace when you run in a race. So, if I was training at a 10 minute per mile pace for 3 miles, I would probably run a 5K race (3.1 miles) at a 9 minute pace. Races are almost always faster than training paces.

Do you know how that’s possible? There’s still the mental warfare that takes place in training runs. But, during races, there’s one more huge motivator: the crowds!!!

Something happens when there are men and women, boys and girls along the race route who are watching your progress and cheering you on. Their encouragement enables the runners to push themselves harder than they were able to push themselves when they were training by themselves. The people along the race routes and their encouraging cheers are priceless to runners. We listen to those words and feast on them as we continue on in the race.

Encouraging words are powerful. You and I have the ability to cheer others on as they go about their days. We have the ability to help them perform much better than they would on their own … simply by generously giving words of encouragement.

Do you encourage others? It would seem that our narcissistic society, where folks spend more time thinking of themselves than others, causes us to rarely ever give words of encouragement. We have the power to cheer others on to better achievements and yet we fail to do so for fear that they would get the limelight as we sit in the shadows.

Realize that you have the ability to spur others on to greater achievements. Realize that you may be the one that God could use to encourage someone who He could use greatly.

In fact, what would it be like if our churches were filled with a community of men, women, boys and girls who lavished words of encouragement upon each other?! I’d love to find out!

Let me suggest an assignment for you: For the next 24 hours, try to find something encouraging to say to everyone (or virtually everyone) you meet. See how it changes them … and you!

Ephesians 4:29 (New Living Translation)
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”