A Word of Encouragement

Last week I attended my seventh Big Church Day Out festival, and it was a wonderful event, as always.

Although the core focus of Big Church Day Out is Christian music, there is a wide variety of activities and entertainments, as well as opportunities to learn about, and contribute to, many great causes too. I highly recommend it.

In 2015 I took some time away from the music to watch the wonderful “An Evening With CS Lewis,” a charming, humorous and moving one-man show written and performed by David Payne.

I was so impressed with the play that when I saw that it was being staged again this year I marked it down as one of my ‘must see’ performances. I arrived at the venue in good time, found a seat close to the stage, and enjoyed another life-affirming evening.

My purpose here is not to write a review of the show, although I can once again thoroughly recommend that you go and see it if you get a chance. No, I wanted to tell you about the minutes after the actor left the stage.

It’s not my habit to seek out performers at the end of the evening, either for merchandise or selfies, but I felt compelled to walk up to Mr Payne and shake his hand. As I did so, I told him how moved I was by the show, and the fact that I had seen it last year and how keen I had been to see it again.

And that’s when I was surprised, because he was absolutely delighted to hear those words. He thanked me profusely, and I could see that his appreciation of my appreciation was totally genuine.

I was surprised because he had just received a lengthy standing ovation, and my compliment seemed trivial by comparison.

Later I understood the difference. To some extent the response of an audience is a matter of routine. I can’t call it perfunctory, but unless you’ve really blown it, the people who came to see you perform and got what they were expecting will, in return, give you what is expected of them, with a greater or lesser level of enthusiasm.

But when somebody takes the time to meet you and speak a word of encouragement to you individually from the heart, that’s an entirely different situation. A special connection is created between the two of you for those brief moments, and the result of that connection is powerful.

This reminds me of one of the most beautiful aspects of my Christian faith, and that is the personal relationship I have with Jesus. I don’t always feel as close to Him as I’d like to, but I can recall moments when He has walked up to me to share a word of encouragement, and those moments have created a powerful connection that continues to lift me when life gets tough.

And I’m also reminded that I don’t offer words of encouragement to others anywhere near as often as I should. I need to show my appreciation for the good things people do, and for who they are, not because it’s expected, but because it’s the right thing to do, and because it will lift them. Maybe I won’t see the same delight I saw in David Payne’s eyes, but I’ll know my words may be the encouragement they need either now or in the future.

He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11

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