I’m not sure if it’s her personality or her fear, but my six year old is not very good at sticking with things. She moves on. A lot. Before she ever gets the chance to really understand if she likes something. Gymnastics for a few months. Dance for two semesters. And then she was done. This summer we’re trying horseback riding and violin and I am determined to encourage her to see these activities through.
As parents, we can easily be confused by our child’s reaction to something. Are they afraid? Lazy? Do they lack focus? Ambition? Either way, they need to be encouraged with words of affirmation and truth. And sometimes pushed a little bit to grow beyond their own weaknesses.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2
The beauty of encouragement is that as we encourage our kids, we can teach them to be an encourager to others. As we build their hearts up with words, we can show them how to do the same for others. Encouragement should always be a stream of positive words and actions that flow into and out of our lives. Encouragement can be a powerful example of God’s work in our lives.
Three Bible Stories That Teach Kids About Encouragement
“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all of Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’” Deuteronomy 31:7-8 (Read all of Deuteronomy 31 and Joshua 1 with your child.)
God will always be with us to help us when there is a big or overwhelming task before us.
In Deuteronomy 31 through the first few chapters of the book of Joshua, we see the succession of Moses and Joshua in leading the people of Israel into the promise land. The Lord calls a young Joshua to follow Moses as leader of his people. Can you imagine the pressure Joshua must have felt? He was to follow one of the greatest prophets and leaders of the Bible – a man who had seen God face to face. It is no wonder that he was encouraged seven times within these chapters of the Bible to “be strong and courageous.” This commission was spoken to him over and over again as he assumed the role of leader amongst a group of people who were tired and discouraged. For years they traveled through the desert with hopes of reaching the land God had promised them. They journeyed with their families having only what they desperately needed for 40 years with a new home as their motivation. They had yet to see that promise fulfilled when their faithful leader died and a new, young man took his place. But Joshua was strong and he was definitely courageous. He obeyed the calling and leading of the Lord and saw the people enter the promise land.
Use this story to share with your child that we can be encouraged by God’s presence. Sometimes He will call us to do big things or something outside of our comfort zone. This is how He helps us grow. But we can be encouraged that He will never leave us. He is always with us, helping us to be strong and courageous.
Related verse:“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
2. The People of Israel
“And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’ … Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you. . .’ The people of Israel ate the manna for forty years, till they came to a habitable land.” Exodus 16:2-4, 35 (Read the whole story with your child.)
When we feel tired and discouraged, God will help us finish what we’ve started.
The people of Israel must have felt like they were never going to reach the promise land. They spent 40 years (40 years!) wandering around the desert. There were times when they showed they trusted God but there were also times they let their discouragement get the best of them and they “gave up” by complaining and disobeying God. Time and time again, God encouraged His people that He would help them. Even though they disobeyed and often did wrong things, God continued to provide for them, like when He sent manna (bread) from heaven.
Use this story to help your child understand that God will never leave us. Even if we want to give up or we make an unwise choice in the midst of our discouragement, God will come and help us.
Related verse:“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” Acts 11:21-26
God will use others to encourage us and will use us to encourage others.
Barnabas was known as the “son of encouragement” because he was constantly encouraging those around him. As the apostles worked to spread the good news and grow the church, Barnabas played a large role in encouraging and connecting people. He put his reputation on the line to encourage the apostles to accept Paul after his conversion. He mentored the young John Mark when others didn’t want to give him a second chance.
Use these examples to share with your child that God will use others to encourage us as well as using us to encourage others. We should always be looking for ways we can bless someone with our words or actions. In turn, we can be thankful when God uses someone to say or do something kind or helpful to encourage our hearts. There is great power in encouraging each other. It is one of the most tangible ways to be Jesus to those we come in contact with every day.
Related verse:“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
What verses or stories are you using to encourage your kids? How do you help your kids learn to encourage others?
Jessica Wolstenholm is co-founder of Grace for Moms. After 15 years in the music and publishing industries, Jessica came home to be with her two small children. Although the transition from the corporate world to the playground has been an adjustment, she is learning every day to access the grace available to us through Christ as she navigates the full time job of motherhood. She is the co-author of The Pregnancy Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey to Motherhood and The Baby Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey Through Baby’s First Year. Jessica lives in Nolensville, TN with her husband, Dave and two miracle babies, Hope (6) and Joshua (2).