by Kevin Knox
(An excerpt from Kevin’s forthcoming book, No Matter What)
I’m convinced we remember only two kinds of conversations: the ones that discourage us and the ones that lift us up. Everything else is just talk.
About two years ago, I believe God spoke to me inviting me to write. In one of those inaudible but undeniable moments, I sensed God saying, “I have something to say through you; now go say it.”
So, what did I do? I wrote. No, I didn’t write a book or start a blog or anything like that. Instead, I decided the best way for me to begin writing was to encourage people in and around my life with hand-written notes. In fact, I set a goal on Jan 1, 2014 to write one note a day for the whole year to anyone I believed needed encouragement that day. Now, I didn’t actually realize my goal, but that year I did write over 200 hand-written notes to encourage people. The response I got was overwhelming.
Not one person said they’d wished I hadn’t written them.
I encouraged couples on their wedding day. I encouraged new parents on the day of their child’s birth. I encouraged at least a dozen people the week after they lost a job. I wrote one difficult, but encouraging letter to a family grieving the loss of their 26-year-old daughter.
I wrote notes to several people struggling through depression and sadness. I wrote at least 100 notes to various people just telling them something I admired about them. I wrote notes to friends and family. I wrote notes to strangers. And although I didn’t write everyday, every day I did write, the note was always well received.
One unique thing I did during this project was I chose to write people I didn’t really know but knew of. If I decided they needed encouragement, I’d just write.
On one such occasion, I wrote a note of encouragement to an influential community leader who’d recently lost her job in an unfortunate, public fashion. I’d met her only a handful of times, and we didn’t know one another well. I’m not sure she even knew my name. That said, the week she lost her job, I sat down and wrote her a two-page note telling her everything she’d done well.
In my letter, I wrote and told her that from my perspective, she’d added great value to the whole Bay Area by the work that she’d done. I thanked her for her creativity and her leadership. The day I dropped the letter off with her secretary, I figured that was the end of it. We didn’t know one another well. We did have mutual friends, and I’d given her my number in the letter, but I never expected to hear anything else about it.
And then, in a conversation with a mutual friend some months later, I found out the recipient of my letter had been carrying the note around in her purse. For weeks, when certain people would ask her how she was doing, she’d respond by pulling out my letter and say she was doing okay, at least in part, because of the letter in her hand.
I was blown away. All I did was take about 15-20 minutes and jot down some thoughts I had on her situation. Little did I know it was going to actually have an impact on her life. I had no clue she’d carry my letter around with her like that.
That’s when it hit me.
When you encourage other people, you give courage away.
Courage is difficult for many of us to muster up ourselves. But when we take the time to encourage others, it’s like we’re giving courage away for free. In the case of this woman, she was carrying my note around in her purse because, for her, it was like carrying courage in her pocket.
Words shape life. Be picky about what we say. Don’t waste your words on just talking. Use them to give courage away. Lift up those around you. Your words have tremendous power.
Who can you encourage with words today?
Who needs help? Have you reached out?
Words have power; use them to lift the people around you. Give courage away.