Encouragement Is Not Cheerleading
Not usually. At least encouragement is not cheerleading in the form we know…
When cheerleading first began in the late 1800’s in the United States, it was an organized group promoting school spirit at sports events. Today cheerleading is taken very seriously, with competitions and an immense amount of physical skill, practice and talent invested.
What is cheerleading?
Cheerleading is organized, highly visible, and usually a short-term career or add-on to other activities.
Cheerleading is also reserved for a select few – those who have cultivated their physical appearance and ability. (Sometimes lesser physical attributes can derail a professional cheerleader’s career.) No one would decide to begin cheerleading and then go onto the playing field with the squad the next day. Everyone is required to train.
Also, cheerleading remains confined to the sidelines of every sport. A cheerleader doesn’t play the sport, and at the completion of the game, takes off the uniform. At the end of the game no one can identify a cheerleader – they look like everyone else in the crowd who spent their time on the bench, just watching.
What is Encouraging? (If it’s not cheerleading.)
So what is encouragement if it’s not about ‘rah-rah’ cheerleading? If cheerleading were contrasted with encouraging a spouse, a few concepts would stand out:
Playing the game.
Those who encourage their spouse are active participants together in life – they play the game. The uniform is permanent – they wear the character cape of “husband” or “wife”. The role is for life. They have a vested interest in the game continuing. Because we live in the south of the United States, Robert and I have adopted the humorous colloquialism, “They have a dog in the hunt”. A spouse who encourages shows they are invested.
On the fly.
Those who encourage their spouse rarely have an opportunity to plan their routine – encouragement happens spontaneously and what’s needed is different in most instances. Sure, we can create certain habits that are designed to create an atmosphere of encouragement, but in the hurried, everyday lifestyle, encouragement is spontaneous – not planned.
Behind the curtain.
Those who encourage their spouse are not always out front or visible – you won’t find a spot- light on the encourager. It’s more likely an encouraging spouse plays their role in the background of the game. Even if you’re visible on the field, you’re not calling the plays or swinging the bat.
Ingredients for Encouragement
The word encourage has another word embedded within it – courage.
To give encouragement is to fill with courage.
What ingredients are needed to give courage to your spouse?
There are five:
- Hope for a good future – an optimistic outlook & shared insights to benefit your spouse
- Faith – and belief in God and His goodness. Your desire and search to grow in faith as an individual and then share with your spouse as is appropriate in your walk of life.
- Love – unconditional & unending validation of strengths & a steady wish for your spouse’s ultimate good
- Prayer – quiet private prayer, and prayer as a couple – being aware you can’t solve anything, but rely on God
- Action – the movement, the ‘doing’ , lending a hand – the active participation in what will benefit your spouse
27 Actions to Encourage Your Spouse
A couple years ago I created a short e-book with 27 specific activities to do – items to incorporate or experiment with to encourage your spouse. And because Robert is focused on values, I chose to attach specific “value words” to each activity. (We’re both kinda word-nerds.)
I’d imagine not every action is appropriate for everyone at every stage of their marriage – they were meant just to stimulate thoughts and provide concrete ways to begin to encourage… Each word has a detailed and expanded explanation of the action.
If you’re interested in reading the short ideas/actions that comes with each word, I invite you to download the free ebook.
Do you have ways you encourage your spouse – put courage into her or him?
Leave a comment – I’d love to know!
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