How Much Does It Cost to Encourage Others?

I love to sing.

I admit, I’m not all that good at it—certainly not recording artist material—but I 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, praising God with my whole heart. And I know that regardless of how I really sound, 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. Our church was at a fragile crossroad, teetering on the edge of survival. But the words were just what we needed to hear—a message of hope and confidence in the power of God. A reminder that He was still in control. I decided it was worth the cost.

The older couple sat on the front row, arms crossed and brows furrowed. I knew they were judgmental. I knew it my heart it wasn’t going to end well. 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. But instead of encouraging them, I had caused them to laugh.

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

And yet, there were others. Others who told me what the words of the song meant to them and how it encouraged them in our collective time of need.

That experience reminds me to support and lift others up, even though they may not be the best soloist or the best Sunday School teacher or the best preacher I’ve ever heard. Their attempt might not have met the perceived mark of excellence, but perhaps they knew that but were simply willing to sacrifice their praise for my benefit.

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, regardless of what it may cost us.

By the way, 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.


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!

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