“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.” The author of that statement is unknown, but what can be known is that there is a lot of wisdom in it. The author did not say that offering praise after a success is bad – it’s not, it is a good thing. It is, however, not nearly as valuable as the encouragement needed to get to that eventual praise for success.
When our children are little, there will always be certain things that they fail at, at least temporarily. Reading may be a huge hurdle or maybe math. Regardless, the inability to achieve success can become an almost debilitating source of discouragement. That child is in need of encouragement. Without it he or she may never achieve his or her full potential. That realized potential may never be what some other child is capable of, simply due to the abilities they were born with. Nonetheless, success then, is to meet the challenge to become functional and not to quit in the face of discouragement.
How do we as parents achieve the greatest level of encouragement for this child? Well, we sit down with them often, working on whatever is lacking. We no doubt will tell them about something we struggled with during our formative school years as well, explaining how we had to work hard to eventually understand what was so difficult. Empathetically teaching the work ethic is vital encouragement, but by no means exclusive! Additionally, such a situation is the perfect opportunity to point them to the greatest encouragement in life. We can point them to God. There is a great deal of commonality between the young and old in this light. In comparison to God, we are put on an incredibly close plane to one another. We are all little children before Him.
Encouragement then, at its highest level, is to remind one another of God’s love for each of us and the great benefits He holds out to us. In Matthew 7:7-8, Christ said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). When we ask God for something (not out of pride) that we have been and will continue to work toward, a way to that achievement will be granted. If we struggle with reading as a child or self-control as adult, how encouraging is that knowledge and the sharing of it?
The Apostle John wrote, “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him” (John 9:31). Since worshippers of God are imperfect people who repent and overcome – they do God’s will in that sense and He hears them! Again, the personal work ethic combined with a close relationship with God equals encouragement which produces a successful life.
To each of us, young and old alike, God says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” (Isaiah 41:10). These encouraging words come from an author whom we do know and His encouragement will result in our success.