Looking back over old flyers and newsletters from the formative years of our program in the early 80’s, I ran across many articles written by our founder, Richard Beach. But I think some of the most encouraging notes were those from students, some of which are now nearing fifty years old. Reading the students’ stories of change, I am reminded that while staff and programming may have changed, the Author of change remains the same and faithful.
A female student shares in 1984, “Shelterwood is not a place for ‘problem kids.’ Everyone has problems, but at times we just don’t know how to do deal with them. Before I came here in the fall of 1983, I had difficulties in the areas of family life and other relationships, bad grades, trouble at school, and involvement with drugs. I thought nothing could go right with my life. That’s why I ‘m glad there was a place where I could come and sort out my feelings. It’s comforting to know that someone cares enough to help you through the hard times and also be there to share joys and triumphs with. I’ve learned so much in this past year, and it’s amazing. But the most important thing in my life is my relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s exciting to see how He fits into all of this. He is the reason I’ve come so far.”
There was a man in scripture by the name of Barnabas. It is interesting that a name in scripture often reflected something of the character of that person. Barnabas means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). Barnabas was one of the first who came to the great apostle Paul after his conversion and encouraged him or “urged him forward” (Acts 9:27). Wouldn’t it be great to be known as a Barnabas?
I recently asked a group, “What is encouragement?” Answers ranged from a boost, a lift, motivation, strengthening. Have you ever noticed how much encouragement energized you?
The opposite of encouragement is discouragement. The world’s system is not to encourage others, lest they get ahead of you. The world system is to discourage, to be sarcastic, to point out faults or to use false flattery to meet selfish objectives.
The Christian should be living a different lifestyle. After looking into God’s word and being encouraged, we should be encouraging others. Have you ever seen someone who encourages become the encouraged?
How then do we encourage?
- Point out good qualities in others
- Pat someone on the back
- Share an encouraging scripture
- Pray for someone
- Recognize a person’s gift and let him or her know
- Tell someone how his or her life has impacted your own life
- Maximize a person’s strong points
We miss you Richard and are proud to name our new student lodge after you.