It was another hot July day in central Florida. My days at “dog school” were feeling longer, and my new guide and I were getting tired. He was yellow Lab named William, and we became fast friends. We had worked on walking together and learning each other’s pace. We had been to the mall and McDonald’s and discovered that we both had an affinity for French fries at the golden arches!
Practicing the Pace.
So, this day, we trudged down the sidewalk in Palmetto, Florida for another training session. Our class had gone out with our dogs to navigate some busy downtown streets William and I were having trouble keeping up. We weren’t lost or distracted. We were hot and tired! William slowed, and we lagged. I stopped to give him water since the temperature was well into the 90’s. He gulped in some H2O and off we went. But within minutes, he slowed again. “Good dog, William,” I cheered. “You’re a good boy!” In response to my praise, he panted harder and barely picked up his pace.
More than Praise
When I realized we were way behind our group, I knew we needed to speed up. I could have gotten a step ahead of that dog and dragged him, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a “guide” dog! So instead of repeating the verbal, “Attaboys,” I reached down to pat him on the head as we strolled. To my utter surprise, he got a little snap to his step. I patted more convincingly, and he walked faster. I kept petting his sweaty head, and his ears flopped as he broke into a gallop! The more I petted, the faster he walked. William needed more than praise. He needed encouragement to finish our assignment.
Courage to Finish
The people in our world need more than praise. They need encouragement. The more we give them encouragement, the faster they will walk toward their goals too! Praise offers compliments, but encouragement grants courage. “You’re a good dog,” was a lovely sentiment for a pup who had no idea what I was saying, but placing my hand on his head, letting him know I believed he could succeed, granted him the courage he needed to strut to the front of the dog line.
Pastor, William Arthur Ward, wrote, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you…encourage me, and I will not forget you.”
There’s power in encouragement. It heartens the weak, emboldens thefrightened and spurs on the weary. We encourage by offering applicable truth --such as, “’God has given you all you need for life and godliness,’ so keep trying because God has equipped you!” or “Don’t give up for you are not of those who shrink back!
Compliments are kind, but praise doesn’t fill our tanks to keep us fueled for the journey like true encouragement. Paul told Timothy,
“Encourage...and build one another up.” (1Th.5:11)
When you give encouragement, you gain too. We’re in this together so give encouragement and gain the satisfaction of moving forward together in life and ministry.
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with them all.” (1Th 5:14, ESV)Find out more about Jennifer Rothchild at
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