2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
16 “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
For the past fourteen years, from the first of April through the middle of May, my evenings, Saturdays, and Sunday afternoons were consumed with hand writing letters of encouragement to each of my 120-140 students. Since no two students were alike, it took time to compose what I needed to write to affirm and challenge each one.
There was an abundance of help from Larry and the boys during those weeks. They willingly did extra chores so I would have time to complete the marathon of writing letters. I toyed with the idea of maybe not doing them a few years, because of the time factor, but it didn’t take long to realize that it was a tradition I didn’t want to break. Besides, the boys said that was not an option.
The day I handed out the letters was my favorite day of the school year. I saved the last few minutes of each class period to give them to the students. Before I handed them out, I told them that what I wrote was what I truly believed. They each excelled in some way whether it was academics, sports, art, music, writing, communication skills, enthusiasm for life, making friends, humor... My hope was that they would build on their strengths and be encouraged and challenged to add more attributes in the coming years.
Through the years, former students have told me that they still have and read their letters. Two years ago, a girl was absent the day I gave out the notes. When she returned the next day, I gave her the letter I had written to her. On the way back to her desk she asked, “What is this?” Before I could answer, the other kids said, “It’s a letter to make you feel good about yourself.” “I had my mom buy me a picture frame so I could have it in my room to see all the time.” “My mama said that was the first nice thing a teacher had ever written about me.” That made it all worthwhile.
Whether written or spoken, may our words be an encouragement to someone this week.
8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
I Thessalonians 5:11
11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”