| from Lauren Roman |

When was the last time you celebrated the beginning of something? (No, the stroke of midnight on January 1st, 2021, does not count.)

When was the last time you celebratedbeginning something yourself? Or celebrated your child or loved one starting something new?

If we pause to actually answer those two questions, it’s readily apparent how much better we are at celebrating the “small beginnings” of our children, loved ones, friends – even strangers! – than we are at celebrating our own.

Except for the rare individuals who’ve mastered the art of self-encouragement, most people live with a severe encouragement deficit. Day after day, we buy into the messages of insufficiency we pick up from advertising, peers, church-goers, co-workers, competitors, entertainment, family, friends… and let’s not forget social media!

Somehow, no matter what we say, do, try, buy, or accomplish, we’re easily dogged by that dreaded feeling of never-enough-ness. It’s like an ongoing low-grade fever of discouragement: not so severe that we can’t function, but just strong enough that it keeps us from fully enjoying life. 

Rather than encouraging ourselves by celebrating “progress, not perfection,” far too many of us incessantly focus on what’s not yet done… or not done perfectly.

I’ve personified that hard-driving perfectionistic voice in my head as my Inner Drill Sergeant. I don’t like her. I don’t respond well to being yelled at, ridiculed or shamed – even if only in my subconscious!

Of course, I’m not alone. Most people don’t respond well to that kind of treatment! So why is it that so many of us would never treat our kids, family, friends, or coworkers that way… yet we do that to ourselves?

It’s not a virtue to be hard on ourselves, as if pushing and demanding are the only way to get things done. They’re not even a good way to get things done!

Much like God’s loving kindness leads us to repentance, showing love and kindness is invariably the best way to win someone over! 

No wonder there’s so much division in our world these days. When was the last time you witnessed someone trying to win people over to their way of thinking by showing love and kindness?

Pausing and attempting to answer that question could take a long time, so consider it rhetorical.

The point is: people respond better to love than fear. Don’t try to intimidate yourself, your kids, or anyone else into action. It might get results in the short term, but it won’t ultimately get the results you really want.

Encouragement is the best way to achieve short term results, again and again, until we eventually achieve long term results.

Celebrate each small step in the right direction, the way you’d cheer your infant son taking his first almost-step! Celebrate even attempting something new, the way you’d applaud your daughter for trying a new sport!

That’s the heart of our Father – love, not fear. He delights in our every success, large or small, and He faithfully picks us up when we fall. 

He gives us strength to begin, and to begin again, as many times as it takes.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” – Zechariah 4:10 NLT

Lauren Roman is an enthusiastic encourager, creative communicator and truth teller who captivates audiences of all kinds. Her eclectic career began as a “soap star” in her teens (ABC’s All My Children) and now encompasses speaking, singing and writing – all to inspire others toward true identity and counter-cultural freedom in Christ. As Lauren shares from her own life with bold transparency, emotion, humor and humility, interweaving practical biblical insights, hearts are engaged and stirred to change. 

In addition to her work as an Associate Writer and Speaker for Celebrate Kids, Lauren keynotes live and virtual events for women, youth and multi-generational ministries throughout the US and beyond. For more information, visit: laurenroman.com