If you want to be a great encourager, you must use you eyes to see the glory in the ordinary. This is not to suggest that you should celebrate mediocrity as virtuous. It does mean that when a person is striving to rise above his current level of attainment, it is something worthy of commendation. Think about it: anyone can applaud the outstanding athlete or artist, but do we believe that perfection is the only thing worthy of praise? We make a mistake when we withhold praise in a deserving area of a person's life just because of a less noble facet in a different area. To recognize one trait does not mean that we are condoning everything. If such was the case, then we could never give anyone a compliment about anything because no one is perfect!
Those who are wise look for opportunities to praise others. This makes criticisms much more effective when they are needed. Parents who regularly praise their children will get a much better response from them when correction is delivered. Church leaders who frequently praise the local body (both individually and collectively) will see a better response to rebukes when they are necessary.
If our eyes are focused on the negative, we will never be able to fulfill the command issued in I Thessalonians 5:16-18 - "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." One who only sees errors and shortcomings will not be a person of joy or gratitude. Allowing our eyes to only see the negative will prevent us from being what God wants us to be. Additionally, we will discourage others.
Friends, do you look at others through the eyes of an encourager or discourager? Perspective is everything, and we choose our perspective every moment of the day! The discourager sees John as stubborn. The encourager, however, views him as persistent and determined. The discourager perceives Jane as bossy. The encourager, on the other hand, sees her as assertive and capable of getting results. The discourager views Joe as one who talks too much. The encourager sees that Joe is really an outgoing and friendly person. Are you looking at the world through a positive or negative lens?
Aubrey Johnson made the following excellent suggestion on page 71 in The Barnabas Factor : "A skilled encourager (i.e., one with caring eyes) can always find something to affirm in others. Do they have a good attitude? Do they take pride in their appearance? Do they possess a special talent or ability? If they cannot be praised for completed actions, can they be congratulated for their attempts? Encouragers notice efforts and progress, not just perfect performance." It is a mistake to minimize small steps forward in the life of another.
May we use our eyes as a tool to encourage others!