This is what I asked myself, when going on a bicycle trip through Germany to visit friends:

What does it mean to encourage someone – especially when you don’t know the person that well?

In order to answer that question, I decided to interview my hosts and friends that I was going to see on this bicycle trip. I wanted to hear their personal definition of encouragement and learn from their experiences.

In the beginning, I only defined encouragement as cheering up people who are feeling downcast. Nevertheless, the interviews broadened my perspective: Supporting people to follow their (God-given) gifts and passions was added to my definition.
     Many of my friends and hosts could tell stories of how they got encouraged and it influenced their lives long lastingly. Sometimes only one conversation or one small deed made the difference. I hope for more of such occasions and especially being more aware of using my chances to make such a difference in other people’s lives. But how can I encourage those I don’t know that well or don’t know at all? Well, I am not totally sure yet. However, what I believe is that everyone has past experiences and stories to tell that have the potential of encouraging others – even people you do not know. Being open and authentic about lessons you have learned or things you have experienced in life can be THE encouragement that one person needs to take the next step – even if it seems to be trivial in your view. For instance, I am especially encouraged when listening to stories of how God intervened in people’s lives. After hearing such stories, I can only stand in awe of the goodness of God! I am encouraged to trust God even more that HE can do such things in my life and with me as well. 

       In my daily life, I want to put into practice what I have learned about encouragement. However, I am also looking very much forward to summer 2022 where as we as LeadNow are going on an outreach through the Balkan region to visit young leaders, listen to their stories and encourage them in their work. Encouragement and testimonies of God’s goodness can make the difference in someone’s life.

If interested in our trip, here some more information:

Written by Leah Timmermann, 26 years old, part of the LeadNow team