Living in the inner city of Detroit was tough enough on 8-year-old Ben, but it got even worse when his father walked out on the family.
Ben’s mother, Sonya, was determined to fight through the heartbreak, fear and financial struggle. Although she only had a third-grade education, she insisted Ben and his brother get an education. However, Ben was ridiculed in school and was nick-named “Dummy” by the other fifth graders.
As a result, Ben’s self-esteem suffered along with his school work and his grades. He resigned himself to thinking his was stupid. Sonya eliminated their TV time and replaced it with library cards. She required both boys to read two books a week. Then write a report on each one. It wasn’t until they were adults, they learned that their mother couldn’t read!
Then one day in science class the teacher held up a shiny, black rock and asked if anyone could identify it. Ben recognized it from a book he read and quickly raised his hand. And to the surprise of his giggling classmates, Ben not only correctly identified the rock, but explained its formation. That day, Ben said he realized he wasn’t a dummy!
By the sixth grade Ben had risen to the top in his class. He excelled in High School and was accepted into Yale University. Then into the University of Michigan Medical School. Recently Ben retired as the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
You know Ben as Dr. Benjamin Carson.
After receiving the Metal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2008, Dr. Carson credited his mother’s encouragement for his success. “If my mother had not been such a positive influence in my life, and had not stressed education as much as she did, I would definitely not have made it into medicine,” he said. “I probably wouldn’t have found my way to college at all.”
Dr. David Jeremiah compared encouragement to someone whose car will not start because its weakened battery has lost its charge. But then someone comes along side and gives us a jump-start. “The strength of the operative car is transferred into the weak battery, and the inoperative car is rejuvenated into action” That’s the power of encouragement!
The Bible says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (Heb. 10:25, NIV)
Encouragement is a unique need today. More than ever. While there has always been bad news. Evil people. Ungodly actions. 24 hour cable news and the power of the internet brings everything into our homes, and minds, instantly. It is easy to become calloused by the pervasive nature of sin. And the headlong descent into the moral abyss our country is heading. The admonition of the Hebrew writer is never more needed than today. “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (3:13)
Find a way that works for you to encourage others. Maybe it is by just “being there” when someone is going through a tough time. Use cards, notes, emails, texts, even facebook to encourage others. Look for the right time to say a good word. A kind word. An uplifting word. Or it may be that arm around the shoulder of a discouraged, disconsolate friend. A touch of the hand. A warm embrace,. A pat on the back. A wink. A smile. A thumbs up!
Who needs your encouragement today? A frazzled young mother? An elderly shut-in? A confused young person? A tireless teacher? A dedicated deacon? A new Christian? A faithful preacher? A devoted elder? The physically sick? The emotionally fragile? The spiritually weak?
“Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman