Weekend Thought by Robert Fish

TRYING something new for the first time can make us anxious.

For that reason, we tend to stay in our comfort zone, preferring to stick with what is familiar.

Holidays often provide opportunities for new experiences; things we would not normally do at home.

When my wife and I were in Portugal last year, we had the opportunity to try karaoke.

Neither of us had sung karaoke before and, although we wanted to, we were nervous and it was some time before we plucked up the courage.

What finally persuaded us to perform was the encouragement we gave one another, so we got to our feet and gave a rousing rendition of the Sonny and Cher classic I got you babe.

I expect we looked rather foolish, but several people commended us for being brave enough to try. Mercifully, no one remarked on the quality of our singing.

Had we not given each other that mutual encouragement, it’s very unlikely we would have had the courage to get up and sing.

It struck me afterwards how easy it is, in all walks of life, to be held back not just through lack of encouragement but fear of being criticised.

We can be very quick to put others down, but slower at offering praise.

In the Bible, one of the apostles, whose real name was Joseph, became known as Barnabas which means “son of encouragement”.

He was given this name because he was a great encourager and, for this reason, was sent to strengthen the church in Antioch, in present-day Turkey.

Next time you find yourself tempted to be critical, think about how you might be a Barnabas instead. Who are you going to encourage this week?