What encourages you?

Today I received an e-mail from a friend that I thought was worth answering out loud.

He asked:

I know this may sound crazy to ask but what is your source of encouragement?  What really keeps you motivated?  Other than your spiritual walk. What does it take to put Paul on cloud nine?  Just curious.

First of all, it is hard to answer this question without including my “spiritual walk.” The spiritual disciplines of Bible reading/study and prayer are two “must have” exercises in my life. Without the correction and guidance of the Scriptures I tend to get a little off in my attitudes and actions and prayer is my chance to speak with the biggest “source of encouragement” ever!

Beyond that, I draw energy from solitude. I love people a lot, but my energy comes from the quiet moments alone with a book and a cup of coffee or a long trip with plenty of time to think, listen, and dream.

Affirmation from my wife is a huge source of encouragement. If the world doubts me but my bride believes in me, I can do the impossible. The words she speaks, the looks she gives, and the quiet touch at the right moments all serve as huge morale boosters.

I also draw energy from getting away from the arena in which I lead. This summer I painted a house. That week off boosted my leadership energy and completing that project put a notch in my belt. I love the feeling of completion; something that pastors don’t often get because there is always “another step to take.”

Another source of encouragement, I love to see people experiencing God and watch as their lives are transformed through their relationship with Jesus and the church.

Finally, I do enjoy the affirmation of friends and family. The older I get the less I depend on that to sustain me but I still appreciate it! “Atta boy’s” from people are kind of like a piece of pie after a steak dinner.

A caveat about people’s praise:

I have learned that I cannot allow people to serve as my only source of encouragement, otherwise I will become a people pleaser and only do things that I know people will affirm. The truth is that I must draw close to God, know His will for my life and do that with courage and tenacity. If while doing that I receive the affirmation of people that is a bonus, but it must never be the catalyst for leadership or life decisions.

So how about you?

What encourages you?


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