A Challenge for 2018

Dr. Daehnert encourages one of his students before chapel

The first day of classes this Spring semester, I had a student walk up to me and say the nicest thing to me—very encouraging for sure. I used to think that only a certain gracious personality (or someone with the “gift of encouragement”) could be encouraging, but I have decided it takes intentionality—to encourage on purpose.

My personality is one which demonstrates being a “pleaser.” I like to greet people and say hello when I am walking around on campus. I know that some folks may think I am just a “back slapper” trying to get people to like me. On some level, I am certainly guilty of those accusations. At first, I tried to dismiss my need to please by being grim and not speaking to others. However, I have looked around to see we live (not so much at DBU) in a skeptical, critical world. It seems at times that you can make no one happy—roommates, family members or neighbors. Yet, I have chosen not to listen to the doomsday, negative folks. I choose to live by faith and trust Christ to make sense out of a crazy society and culture. I choose to see the best in others even when it isn’t easy to do so.

"I choose to live by faith and trust Christ to make sense out of a crazy society and culture. I choose to see the best in others even when it isn’t easy to do so."

Jesus chose to find the best in others, especially when religious scoundrels could not do so. Whether it was the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), Zacchaeus in the tree (Luke 19), or the woman caught in adultery (John 8), the Master made a point to encourage those who were considered outcasts. What a great lesson for you and me!

In Acts 9, the apostle Paul found out that the disciples were afraid of him and distanced themselves from him. But in verse 27, it was Barnabas who “took him in,” and was very intentional to make sure others gave him a chance.

Maybe someone has “taken you in” to include you and encourage you. Let me ask you to do the same. You never know what that will do for someone else this very day.

Think about these ways of “taking others in” and encouraging them:

  1. Notice the quiet ones in class or while eating a meal. They may be embarrassed if you seek them out, but I promise you they will be grateful.
  2. Say a good word to those you notice are kind to others but go unnoticed.
  3. Say a word of affirmation to someone you see who serves others without much attention.
  4. Find something good to say to someone with whom you don’t really engage or consider a close friend—you are not being insincere by being affirming, just positive when they may need a good word for the day.
  5. In this very busy, crazy world, sit down and write a brief note of gratitude the Lord lays on your heart—I assure you He does that every day.
  6. Thank someone for “calling you out” or correcting some of your actions. This can be a very difficult, counter-cultural thing to do. I assure you if they are a brother or sister in Christ, that good word will come back to you in positive ways.
  7. Last (although this should be always), give the Lord a word of blessing and praise. I know He is God, but you will be amazed to see what real gratitude for Him will do in your relationships with others.
Written by Dr. Jan Daehnert

Dr. Jan Daehnert is the Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies and Ministry for the College of Christian Faith.