Give an Encouraging Word

by Martin Wiles


So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing”
(1 Thessalonians 5:11, NLT).


I ignored the call, assuming it just another spammer.

Writers’ conferences wield a double-edged sword. I hang on every word from experienced speakers, authors, and editors. Be patient. Don’t give up when you receive rejection letters. Show don’t tell. Get an agent. Submit something for publication…anything. Pay an expert or enlist a friend to look over it. Remember, you only write for an audience of one.

But then that devilish angel mounts my shoulder. You’ll never succeed. Your writing stinks. Don’t expect any compensation for your writing. 

And hearing from those who’ve experienced a measure of success in writing doesn’t help. The jealousy bug emerges angrily. Why couldn’t the same happen to me? I’ve been writing longer than they have. Why did the agent accept them as a client but reject me? Why did the publisher accept their manuscript but toss mine?

Between sessions, I received a call. I didn’t recognize the local number, so I ignored it. A few minutes passed before I heard the ding notifying me I had a voicemail. I pressed the play button.

A pastor with a congregation not far from where I live had read some of my devotions. Enjoying them, he had investigated my bio. And the purpose of his call? Just to give a word of encouragement.

“I know we all get a lot of spam callers,” he said, “but I just wanted to give you a word of encouragement.”

Most of my voicemails, I erase. This one, I saved. A day will come when someone gives one of my books a critical review or puts a judgmental comment on one of my blog posts, and I’ll need to hear a word of encouragement.

Following Paul’s directions in Thessalonians 5:11 requires initiative. Our default mode is often criticism. But God wants us to do what this stranger did. The Lord knew I needed encouragement that day and his timing proves perfect every time.

Rather than criticize, encourage. Ask God to lead you to the person who needs uplifting words.

Father, may we be the encouragers others need.


(previously published by The Write Conversation)

martin wiles


Martin Wiles is the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions, Senior Editor for Inspire a Fire, and a proof-editor for Courier Publishing. He has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book is A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Busy World. You can connect with him at


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