Do you know where your local post office is?
How about the cost of a stamp?
When’s the last time you mailed a handwritten letter to someone?
Today I want to challenge you to find your local post office and mail a handwritten letter to someone who needs encouraged.
Why take the time to encourage others? Because . . .
1. You’re made in the image of the God of encouragement.
He intended for you to reflect Him to the world around you:
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:5–6).
What’s holding you back from imitating and “imaging” your Father, the God of encouragement?
2. Your encouragement could be someone’s lifeline today.
Everyone needs encouragement—even leaders! The apostle Paul—the same guy who wrote at least thirteen books of the New Testament—wrote of a time he was desperately in need of encouragement:
When we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more (2 Cor. 7:5–7).
3. You have real perspective and hope to offer.
It’s too easy in this dark world to start living as if Jesus is just a fanciful idea rather than our soon-to-appear King! The end is in sight. The best is yet to come. That ought to change the way we think and live right now. That’s why, for ten whole verses, Paul reminds believers that Jesus is coming back soon. He concludes, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).
How could the truth that Jesus is returning soon encourage your friend in what they’re facing right now?
With these three reasons in mind, I want to encourage you to be extra intentional about encouraging someone through a handwritten letter.
Here are ten steps to writing an encouraging letter:
1. Plan ahead.
It won’t happen otherwise. Choose a regular time to write a letter or two. It could be each morning after you spend time with God, or every Sunday afternoon, or at the beginning of each month. And don’t miss the biggies. Does anyone have a birthday this month?
2. Choose who you want to encourage.
Who is currently going through a rough time? Who recently did something that meant a lot to you? Who can you thank? Who is on your heart today? Who needs Jesus?
3. Examine your motives.
Why do you want to write them a letter? Are you puffing them up in order to get something out of them? Or . . . why do you not want to write a letter to them? Are you jealous of them? Confess your sinful motives to God, and ask Him to purify your heart.
4. Pray for them.
Don’t just write a letter telling them that you will or that you are praying for them—do it right then! There’s no greater, more powerful gift you can give someone than heartfelt, urgent prayer through Jesus to the Father.
5. Write about your prayer in the letter.
Even let them know how you prayed for them. Something like, “I prayed that God would help you believe truth during this time and hope in Him alone . . .”
6. Be specific.
So you appreciate them. But what specifically do you appreciate about them? You’re grateful for them. Why? If they’re a believer, where do you see God’s grace in their life? How specifically, on a daily basis, do you see them looking more like Christ?
7. Share Scripture with them.
Romans 15:4 tells us that “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
As believers in Christ, we—of all people—can offer lasting encouragement and hope. Don’t preach, but do point them to Christ and His promises. You don’t have to include a litany of verses; I’ve found that just one power-packed verse can go a long way (Prov. 25:11).
8. Keep it short.
If your letter is pages and pages long, most people won’t read it. Short and sweet all the way, baby!
9. Handwrite it.
This isn’t necessary, but it’s definitely extra special. (FWIW: I usually write or type a rough draft ahead of time so the actual card isn’t a mess.)
10. Invest in some cards and stamps.
If you don’t have the money, lined paper will do just fine. But if you can invest a few extra bucks into cards, it will go a long way in making others feel loved.
I buy the value pack of blank cards from Hobby Lobby and glue the fronts of cards people have given me onto them. (I know, I know . . . just call me el cheapo!)
I like to keep a basket of cards, paper, envelopes, pens, scissors, and glue on hand so I can whip out a card on a moment’s notice. You might want to do the same.
Don’t worry if you’re not artsy. This isn’t about making you look good. It doesn’t matter if your card is Pinterest-worthy. The main thing is: are you available to share God’s encouragement with others who desperately need it?
Writing a letter isn’t the only way to encourage someone. But it sure is a great way to put into practice Philippians 2:1–5:
If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
At the beginning of this post, I asked if you knew where your local post office is. If not, you can find the nearest location here. And if you want to know how much a stamp costs, learn the answer here.
Log on to the giveaway widget below, and then leave me a comment telling me who you will write your encouraging letter to. I’ll pick one of you to win a free pack of cards. (But you’ll have to lick the envelope yourself!)