Encouraging Words

I love to sing. I admit, I’m not all that good at it–certainly not recording artist material–but I still love it. You should hear me in the car when I’m all alone and the music is turned up loud. I sing with abandon, and praise God with my whole heart. I know He thinks my voice is beautiful!

But it’s a different story when I’m in front of the church. I want to sing with abandon, I want to praise God with my whole heart. But instead, my throat tightens, my voice trembles. And even though I know I shouldn’t, I remember the day they laughed.

It was years ago, my first attempt at singing a solo in a previous church. The older couple sat on the front row, arms crossed and brows furrowed. Why did I continue to look at them? Why didn’t I zoom in on the faces of my precious family, smiling at me from the third row?

My heart pounded as the song began. My voice-clear and strong in the car-came out weak and unsure onstage. And then the moment came. The one I had dreaded since I stepped up to the podium. The high note squeaked out . . . off-key.

My eyes went straight to the couple, hoping for grace and acceptance. The husband elbowed his wife. She rolled her eyes, crinkled her mouth into a smirk, and shook her head.

I had specifically chosen that song to minister to our body. Our church was at a crossroad, and the words were just what we needed to hear–a message of hope and confidence in the power of God. But instead of encouraging the people, I had caused them to laugh.

Yes, it was only one couple. But they are the ones I remember. Their response is the one that’s indelibly printed on my mind.

I still sing, and I love it, but oh, how I want to be able to sing onstage with abandon, like I do when it’s just God and me in the car with the music turned up loud.

That experience reminds me to support and lift others up, even though he or she may not be the best soloist or the best Sunday School teacher or the best preacher I’ve ever heard. Ephesians 4:29 tells us to build up others, according to their needs.

Satan is the author of destructive criticism. Let’s look for opportunities to minister to each other through the gift of encouragement.

Instead of being like the couple on the front row, crossing our arms and laughing, let’s ask God to use us to deliver encouraging words. Let’s ask Him to guard our mouths and give us discernment as we help each other through life.

We can be the difference between helping someone sing with abandon or causing them to tremble with fear. It’s all in our words.

(Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com)

Vonda Skelton

Vonda is a speaker, writer, and motivational humorist who is thankful God can take her messes and use them for His glory. She's the author of four books, owner of The Christian Writer's Den blog, and founder of Christian Communicators, an organization to help educate, validate, and launch women in their speaking ministries. Vonda and her husband have been married all their lives--and they're still happy about it! www.VondaSkelton.com

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  1. Thank you, Vonda, for this reminder that our words (and body language!) can build up or tear down. My life has been greatly impacted by amazing Encouragers….and my heart’s desire is be one, too!

  2. Thanks for your kind words. Yes, that’s my heart’s desire as well! Can’t wait to see you Saturday at the Write Well Write Shop! I LOVE teaching writers!

  3. A great reminder to encourage Vonda! Sometimes it’s those painful memories that teach us such important attributes of Jesus. To be an encourager. But as singing goes…I’m sticking to my car 😉

  4. I’ve heard you sing, and it’s beautiful, just like your heart. In fact, I’m convinced that whenever anyone sings from the heart, it’s beautiful, and encouraging. Because you love God, it shows in your singing. I could listen to you for hours. Thanks for sharing, my friend. God bless you.

  5. Vonda- We’ve all let that one couple define our moment. Praise God you’ve moved beyond that. The applause from heaven for your willingness to publicly praise and worship your Savior was music to His ears that day and it still is!

  6. Thank you both, Bruce and Dawn. I appreciate your kind words. And yes, even though we may not have recording artist voices, God loves and inhabits the praises of His people–regardless of how we sound!

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