Few things are more disheartening this time of year than looking at a Christmas shopping list with no check marks by the names. You want to give something special to each person on the list, but you wonder where you’ll find either the time or the money to purchase the gifts. And after you shop, it can be even more discouraging to realize you’ve spent money you didn’t really have on items people didn’t really need or want!
This year, why not look at your list as an encouragement list instead of a shopping list? What can you give these people that will encourage them to move closer to meeting their goals or realizing the God-given, created design for their lives? You’ll be amazed how far the dollars stretch when the real value of the gift is its ability to encourage.
And it’s not that difficult to think of reasonably priced gifts with a “value-added” encouragement factor. For example, giving a box of paints to a child with an artistic bent, or a new soccer ball to a child who’s proud of her athletic ability, is a way you say, “I see who you are, and I think you’re terrific.” Obviously, it’s taking the time to see who they are and who they are in the process of becoming that is the real gift.
A promise for free babysitting or a gift certificate for a manicure is sure to encourage a young mother and affirm the value of her decision to make being a mom a top priority in her life. Likewise, a young dad might appreciate tickets to a ballgame or registration to a men’s retreat. Something that says, “You’re a good dad and you deserve a break.”
A set of note cards with stamped envelopes, pre-addressed to family members, will encourage an elderly grandmother to keep in touch with those she loves. It also carries an extra-encouraging message that says, “All of us in this family value you and what you have to offer to us. Don’t ever stop sharing your love and wisdom with us.”
Look at the names on your list again. What could you give each person that would be an encouragement for his or her life journey this year? Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Christmas gives us a new opportunity to do this when we exchange our shopping lists for encouragement lists.