Baseball season is almost here and it all ways reminds me of this story:
Willie loved to play baseball. His dream was to one day play in the major leagues. When he graduated from high school he began to play in the minor leagues. His first year he batted over .330 and was promoted to AAA (just one step below the major leagues). In AAA he was awesome batting .477 when he was promoted to play in the majors. When he reached the major league ballpark, he was surprised to see that he was starting in center field. Though his team won, he failed to get a hit going 0 for 4. He also went hitless his next 3 games. After getting his hit (a home run) he was sure that his slump was over, it wasn't. He failed to get a hit in his next thirteen at bats and was now 1 for 25 and batting just .040. Crying by his locker, he asked his manager to be sent back down to the minor leagues, he just couldn't hit major league pitching. Then his manager told him, "You're my centerfielder, as long as I'm the manager. You can hit, and you will."
Willie did begin to hit and became one of the greatest centerfielders of all time, hitting over 600 home runs. Willie Mays is proof of the power of encouragement.
In the Bible we read about Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the early church. He had special orders to find and kill all Christians. Then one day, on his way to Damascus, Jesus appeared to him and his whole life changed. He became a Christian and wanted to tell others about Jesus, but no one trusted him and he was forced to escape at night by being let down outside of the city walls in a basket. Then Paul went to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples but they were afraid of him. Barnabas stepped in and supported Saul (now Paul) and then the people were were willing to accept him. Then the Jews tried to kill Paul, so the disciples sent him to Tarsus and it was there that Barnabas went a few years later to get Paul to help strengthen the church in Antioch.
You see, if it wasn't for Barnabas and his encouragement of Paul, we would have never seen the good that Paul was able to do. But because Barnabas believed in Paul and encouraged him, Paul was able to do wonderful things for Jesus.
What do Willie Mays and Paul have in common? They both had someone to encourage them when they needed it and they became great at what they did; Willie Mays in baseball, Paul in encouragement. Paul wrote in the letter to the Thessalonian church (1 Thes. 5:11) "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up."
Many people like to put other people down. They make fun of what they look like, how they dress, what job they have, or what they like to do for fun. That is exactly what Paul didn't want us to do. He expected us to do just the opposite. He wants us all to encourage others so that they can become the best possible people they can become. so, who have you encouraged lately?