The Power of Your Platform: Be an Encourager

Encouragement helps you to go one step more, become better – Hubert de Givenchy

A Nurse and Cookies

At just 19 months, Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing to a mysterious illness. As she grew into adulthood, unruliness, expressed in temper tantrums and terrorizing her home, marked her life. Her course changed when Anne Sullivan came into her life as a teacher and encourager. Underneath the wild behavior, Sullivan twigged something in Keller and worked to excavate the treasure that lay beneath the surface of Keller’s life. The influence that Anne Sullivan had on Keller was remarkable. Today, Helen Keller is globally remembered for championing the rights of the blind and the less fortunate. When one of England’s highest awards was pinned on Keller for her accomplishments, Queen Elizabeth asked, “How do you explain the fact that even though you are both blind and deaf, you were able to accomplish so much?” Almost instinctively, Keller replied, “If it had not been for Anne Sullivan, the name Helen Keller would have remained unknown.”

Sullivan used her platform to encourage Keller because she experienced the encourager’s touch in her own life. Sullivan could relate to Keller because she was once diagnosed as insane and considered a danger to society. She would have remained locked in the basement of a mental institution in Boston were it not for an elderly nurse who took the time to see the potential in her. She began bringing cookies to Sullivan and leaving them in her room. This small act began to bring Sullivan, not only out of the basement of the institution but also out of the dungeons of a hopeless existence. Doctors noticed a change in Sullivan. This change continued until Sullivan was released. Her need to help others was inflamed, and that passion and purpose were exactly what Keller needed when their paths crossed.

Keller was right to say she would be unknown if it were not for Anne Sullivan. But I believe that without the elderly nurse, Anne Sullivan would not have been there to help Helen Keller. This is the upward effect of encouragement. In the vein of the elderly nurse, Anne Sullivan, and Helen Keller, how do we use our platforms to encourage others?

Observe to Encourage

Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller were beneficiaries of keen observation. By looking beneath the surface of Sullivan’s diagnosis, the elderly nurse not only brought Anne out of the institution’s basement but also brought out the potential in Anne. As the nurse took note of Anne and believed there was hope for her, she took small steps to express that hope by way of encouragement. Initially, “Little Annie” did not take note of the nurse or show any response to her words of encouragement. But she persisted and Anne came around. In his hard-to-put-down book, How Happiness Happens, best-selling author and Pastor Max Lucado says, “With the skill of rock masons, encouragers stack stones of affirmation and inspiration.” Encouragement calls out the best in people. It’s seeing the best in others when they cannot. Our words of encouragement can carve out of others what they never thought they had. Encouragement is a gift that you can give to anyone, anywhere, and at any time, with no cost to you but with immense benefit to the receiver. Never hesitate where encouragement is needed. Hope is never far behind. We live in a hope-parched world. But with encouragement, we can be refreshing wells that quench those who are thirsty for hope.

“When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you’re making a commitment and difference in that person’s life. Encouragement really does make a difference.”

Zig Ziglar

Final Thought: Be a constant encourager. Your platform will never go stale when you infuse it with encouragement. John Maxwell calls encouragement, “fuel for the soul.” Resilience, confidence, and inspiration all draw from the well of encouragement. Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller benefited from encouragement. Who can benefit from your encouragement today?

Keep on keeping on!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s