How to encourage someone who’s disheartened
We have all been discouraged or disheartened in our Christian walk at one time or another. When a mentee approaches us for encouragement, it is a great opportunity to show them how they can seek God for their answers in any circumstance. Ultimately, a firm hope and trust in God eventually produces great peace and joy, regardless of what happens to us.
James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Even if we have never gone through the same experiences as our mentees, nor even agree with the reasons why they are discouraged, there are some healthy ways to speak into their circumstances.
1. Acknowledge the feelings
It is important to acknowledge how someone is feeling, whether their reasons for feeling so are rational or not. By attempting to rationalise with them or to make sweeping statements like “Don’t worry, you will be fine“, runs the risk of our mentee feeling even more under-appreciated, alienated or misunderstood than they are already feeling! So just listen well and let our mentee know that we empathise with what they are going through.
1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
2. Shower love, hold back any judgment or opinions
Do not attempt to dissect the issue or find out who’s wrong or right – a lack of peace is often the result of something deeper, so we may be just addressing the symptom and not the root cause. Our anxieties and hurts generally reflect the condition of our hearts or thinking, and a lack of focus on God’s promises and truth as the first priority.
Instead, shower our mentee with care and support. Let him or her know that we are there for them. Sometimes that’s the most important gift we can give. Let us love others like how we would like to be loved.
Matthew 7:12 ESV “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
3. Point to God, expose the enemy’s schemes
This is the most crucial aspect of encouraging someone. Our role as mentors is to point our mentees towards God for their answers, and to shine God’s truth on their situation, rather than rely on our (limited) abilities.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
By shining God’s truth on a situation, we also help to expose the enemy’s lies. The Bible describes Satan as the “accuser” who will one day be hurled down, but until then, he will be accusing us day and night. Discouragement is often the result of some inner condemnation, often brought on by lies and accusations by the enemy who tries to detract us from God’s plans or spiritual blessings.
Revelation 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
4. Always refer to scripture, close in prayer
God’s promises and truth are very powerful, and so is prayer. Always finish our time of encouragement with prayer, based on God’s word.
To help illustrate how these 4 steps can be put into practice, here are two examples below that we can all relate to.
Example 1 – Sarah
Mentee: “My grandfather just passed away. I shared a little about the gospel when I last saw him but have no idea where he was with God in those last moments. I’m feeling really bad right now – I’m wondering if I’m really a true believer.“
Mentor: “What you are going through is one of the toughest questions to have to grapple with. I understand how you must be feeling as I too once struggled with what you’re going through as well… Please don’t let feelings of guilt drag you down. God knows your heart. Pour your grief to and at Him. Shall we pray about this?“
“Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you that You love Sarah’s granddad much more than we can imagine. During this period of mourning and grieving, I pray that Sarah knows You hold her in Your enormous arms of love. May Your spirit comfort her and whisper that You do not accuse her, and that she should let the enemy’s lies in during this period of vulnerability.
Thank you God that Your love is never failing and unconditional! You knew us even before we were born and have numbered all our days. Thank you that You already had a plan for Sarah’s grandpa and in Your infinite mercies, had already allowed for him to hear the gospel from various sources – not just from Sarah. Please show Sarah that his destiny has always been in Your great hands and not hers. That You are much bigger than anything she could ever do on her own.
May she rest in You during this period – please speak into her spirit. Fill her with love and peace.”
Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Example 2 – Brian
Mentee: “I’m leading a small fellowship group and I’m discouraged that people don’t turn up consistently. I feel like closing the group down and quitting.“
Mentor: “Yes, that’s very discouraging. May I ask us to consider something? Would Jesus have come to earth to die for us, if He knew that only a very small minority would be saved? Was the logistics of coming to earth straightforward? What was His motivation?“
He loves us individually and is not led by how many people He serves – and He longs to commune with us. The Bible says that two or more are gathered in His name, there He is amongst us. When the group gathers, I hope it’s about honoring Him, learning the Word and lifting each other up. Know that even if it is just two of you, God is there for you.
Let us walk by faith and not by sight or circumstances, but continue to meet to encourage each other, no matter how many or how few. God would do the same for us! And let’s keep in mind what Paul said in Hebrews 10:24-25 about meeting together.“
Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
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