4. Inspire in writing.
It is unquestionably true that there is something special about words of praise that are written down. Written encouragement has the advantage of being easily preserved for consideration again and again. A written note or card can encourage today and continue to do so years from now in a very precise way. Sadly, our memories of verbal encouragement often fade quickly, but a written form of praise is more permanent. Giving those "thinking of you" notes will be highly treasured by most when they are accompanied with some hand-written, encouraging words. Don't make the mistake of limiting your written words of praise to "special occasions" such as birthdays or anniversaries. I am told that Abraham Lincoln carried with him a newspaper clipping stating he was a great leader. The clipping was found on him after his murder. One can only presume that he carried it with him to refer to it from time to time in order to lift his spirits and give him the confidence needed to face the difficulties of his position. What was true over 140 years ago is still true today: written words of encouragement are powerful!
There are certainly other ways to encourage with our words in addition to the four prior suggestions, but they provide a great place to start! God wants encouraging words to pour forth from our mouths. "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (Eph. 4:29-32). Before you speak, consider whether what you are about to say is true, helpful, and tempered by kindness and consideration for the other person's feelings. Additionally, realize that words of admonition and correction have little power unless there is a positive relationship behind them.
Before wrapping this lesson up, let me also offer some advice to ministers of the word. There are some preachers who understand God's word quite well and are talented speakers, yet it is rare to find anything but negativity flowing from their lips and pens. They constantly bring forth a diet of corrections, rebukes, and condemnation. Please don't misunderstand me on this point. There is certainly a place for sermons that correct and rebuke, but there is also a place for words of exhortation and encouragement! Ultimately, there must be balance - "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (II Tim. 4:2). To exclusively focus upon the negative is a mistake for anyone, including public teachers of the gospel. Those who are wise will endeavor to accentuate the positive as much as they can. Our goal should be to edify others in accordance with God's will. "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another" (Rom. 14:19).