An accomplished artist living in New York City regularly contributed to the donation can of a homeless person as she made her way home from work each evening. When Christmas time came, instead of her normal contribution, she stopped and handed him a wrapped present. As he peeled the paper off, he saw an exquisite painting of himself…only much different than his current reality. Clean shaven. In a business suit. Confident and with a sparkle in his eye. She said, “This is how I see you! Merry Christmas.” Weeks passed. Then months. The following summer, as she was walking home, she saw him. He had become, in actuality, the man reflected in her painting six months before. He confessed to her his motivation for change. “I could not stop staring at the painting. I wanted to be that man that you saw.” He went on to describe how he sought out support to overcome his problems and set out on his new journey to be the man in the painting.

Everyone needs encouragement. We need to be lifted up when we are feeling low and inspired to rise above the hardships of this journey through life. To be an encourager, you need to believe the best in people, to have faith in them. So many people have grown up in homes where they were not given a reservoir of affirmation, words spoken over them that can be drawn upon in later years when the going gets tough.

As leaders, as people made in the image of God, you need to remember the words of author John Maxwell who said, ”your goal is not to get people to think more highly of you. It’s to get them to think more highly of themselves. Have faith in them.” Try to start believing more in the people around you. Praise and encourage them before they have proven themselves. Everyone loves a winner. It is easy to have faith in people who have already arrived. Speak words of life to those who aren’t as far along in their journey. To again quote Maxwell, “Every person has seeds of greatness within, even though they may currently be dormant. But when you believe in people, you water the seeds and give them the chance to grow.”

This week, try to “paint” hope in the lives of those around you through your words! Be aggressive for their success! You have no idea how many lives you will change directly or indirectly if you do so!