Anyone who knows me personally knows how important encouragement is to me. It’s one of those things in life that just grips my heart. I’m a guy who often walks away from conversations with a marked tightness in my chest, praying that I was able to bring courage to the person I was just talking with. Encouragement is life – to us, and to other people. But sometimes that’s easy to forget.

I was reminded again, just recently.

I was listening to a sermon by Bill Hybels and he related the following story told to him by a football coach friend of his.  As the story goes, a former player returned to see this coach more than a decade after he had played for him.  The player had never been very good, had not seen much playing time, and was not immediately memorable. However, the man said that the coach had changed his life, nonetheless.


The player talked about a day in practice where he made a foolish mistake and fumbled the ball. Irritated by his folly, an assistant coach came over, red-faced and screaming, and proceeded to dress him down somewhat cruelly in front of his teammates – everyone on the field was watching.

As the situation continued to deteriorate, the head coach quickly made us way over. Inserting himself between this player and the angry assistant coach, he shoved the assistant coach back several feet, quickly gaining everyone’s attention. The head coach then stated, “Coach him up, not down!” turned, and walked away.

That player went on to become the pastor of a large congregation, and has often thought back to that salient lesson when dealing with his people.

As for me, I’m going to file it away. “Coach him up!” I’ll think, when I’m encouraging someone else – even if he has made a mistake…

“Encourage one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today…'”

– Hebrews 3:13a

The Apostle Paul says that we are to ‘coach each other up,’ every day, without any further qualification! Why? So our hearts won’t be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin! Let’s strive to keep this in mind, no matter what the situation. Even though much of the world may be cruel, we can be people whose words bring life-changing hope and courage!

“Coach each other up! Not down.” – Click to Tweet

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