Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Resolution for 2011

By Nicole Unice


Last week I had some disappointing news that sent me sprinting down the path of self-doubt. In response, one of my “wiser” (read: older) friends shared a story of what God taught her through her own disappointment. Another friend left me a quick note: “Continue to be powerful.” Yet another exhorted me with words I’m still thinking about.

Through my disappointment, I felt known and understood. I felt comforted and challenged. I felt the invisible boost of confidence that comes from genuine encouragement.

We know encouragement helps in disappointment, but in the bustle of leadership it’s easy to let words of encouragement slide—until that next crisis. What if in 2011, you treated encouragement as a spiritual practice? The writer of Hebrews says “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (3:13)

Here are three reasons to make encouragement a New Year’s resolution:

Encouragement is our responsibility every day.
The author of Hebrews says to encourage someone not just when we notice they are down, but every day. As leaders, we need to be sure that we take time daily to speak a word of truth and strength over those we influence.

Today is a day to choose.
The word “today” is capitalized in this verse because it refers to a specific time period. The time period called “Today” is the time when people still have a choice to make about following God. “Today” is a day to choose the path of being led by the Spirit, of allowing Christ to be our Lord. “Today” is a day I choose to let God lead and to follow his command to encourage others in their choice to do the same.

Encouragement is the preservative for freshness.
Encouragement is the solution for avoiding both sin’s hardness and its deceitfulness. Does that surprise you like it does me? I would think, based on popular opinion, that listening to sermons or doing the right thing or having my quiet time is what would keep me from sinning. But encouragement? Really?

Encouragement is a preservative for the giver and for the receiver. To provide a fresh word of encouragement requires listening, asking good questions, caring about the answers and making space in the busyness of the day to allow for those thoughts to be spoken.

So, what is the result of encouraging someone else? It’s knowing what it feels like to put our own needs aside and to invite the needs of another to occupy that space. And that’s what Jesus taught us servant leadership is all about.

Today, I’m taking time to reflect on how to be more encouraging in 2011. Ask yourself: Who do you encounter daily who could use encouragement? Mother Teresa once said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."

Do it today. Do it tomorrow. And experience the encouragement to your own soul as you truly partner with the Spirit in his work of comfort, counsel and strength in other’s lives.

Nicole Unice, MA is a counselor-turned-ministry leader, blogger, and author of The Divine Pursuit. She discovered her love for encouragement as a high school cheerleader. You can find Nicole blogging at


  1. Oh preach it sista! When asked what my spiritual gifts are I answer that I believe I have the gift of encouragement. That one of my callings and passions is to encourage others, to boost them along on their journeys. And I confess that when I offer this response it feels sort of "lame"." Like I just said my spiritual gift is "cheerleading." People sort of ask me "yes, but what else . . . ., what other gifts do you have?" As if cheering on others is not really a big enough gift. So thanks for validating and ENCOURAGING all of us out there who believe God has called us to cheer people on through the challenges of life. Bless you Nicole!

  2. Thank you for the reminder. When my husband and I were married almost 6 years ago, a mentor of mine gave me a note at my bridal shower that talked about being an encourager. This is something I need to become. I'm going to think more positively so that I can encourage others more. Thank you Nicole.

  3. @Tracey: It is a travesty that people downplay the gift of encouragement. I can distinctly remember the words spoken over me at several stages in my life. It's such an honor to be the one who gives that kind of blessing. p.s. I've felt so encouraged by you!
    @anonymous: I love what you say about "thinking positively so I can encourage more"'s an incredible side effect of encouraging others...we actually feel better ourselves!

  4. Thank you for your words of encouragement,
    spuring us on to good works in this area of "encouragement". One of my gifts is encouragement too. I even try to encourage others on with this verse. It comes easy for the most part, something I do but in the mist of life I forget my purpose in it. Thanks for reminding us and getting us back on track and taking us a little deeper into this "spiritual practice" and its purpose, its intentionally and influence both for the person doing it and for the person receiving it.For the new year starting it was good to hear the words and get focused again for His glory. Thanks Sterling

  5. Great words! I would just like to add that encouragement helps us avoid the deceiptfulness of sin because we are speaking truth over each other.

    On my blog I encourage parents to encourage their kids in a variety of creative ways. (

    Jenny Rose

  6. I am seeing this a lot in the motherhood lately. When I feel like all I am doing is telling my kids no or disciplining them . . . and then feeling like a bad mom. I need encouragement (which usually comes from my husband). And then I need to find more ways to encourage my young children even when they are causing me to have multiple MBDs (mental breakdown days) in a row.
    Thanks for the encouragement!