How to Build a Culture of Encouragement

School Culture School Leadership

Encouragement is a powerful tool to see Heaven come to Earth, especially when working on a team. But it is often underestimated. To encourage is to inspire with courage, spirit and confidence. Leaders who express love have the most buy-in from their people. In this post, we will explore the power of encouragement and how a culture of encouragement initiates a healthy feedback culture. 

Four Reasons a Culture of Encouragement Will Change Your School.

1. Encouragement Pioneers The Prophetic.

Our School Planting directors, Ruth and Steve Moore, teach that the prophetic is encouragement with anointing on it. Whenever they teach in churches that are newer to the prophetic, they start with encouragement. To help people lower the stakes, they say, “the worst thing that can happen is that you encourage someone, and the best thing that can happen is that God encourages them.” When people believe this, they can move past the fear of being a false prophet. Realizing how easy it is to encourage one another, your students will feel secure enough to take risks in hearing God’s voice.

2. Encouragement Creates Connection.

You can never mature out of being an encourager. 

Even though it is a way to move into prophecy, simple affirmation will always have value. Your growing prophetic gift only enables you to also give people God’s encouragement. It doesn’t keep you from giving them your encouragement. 

Students in a growing prophetic culture can easily move away from, “I think you are great” to “God thinks you are great.” But you need both to know that you are loved by God and people. You aren’t just in someone’s life to be a messenger of God (like angels), but to be a friend or mentor etc. You were born to live in family. It gives you purpose and a sense of belonging. Receiving intentional words of affirmation reminds you that you belong. Make sure your students have value for both affirmation and prophecy, and you will see supernatural connection develop. 

3. Encouragement Creates Unity.

One of the biggest enemies of unity is unresolved conflicts. When you don’t deal with your offense towards another person, it becomes a stumbling block for connection for the whole team. Your mind gets stuck on what is wrong, and your heart disconnects in response. 

Encouraging someone forces us to shift our thoughts from what is wrong to what is right. The Holy Spirit falls on unity, and we cannot stand if divided (Ps. 133, Matt. 12:25). As a leader, you have the power to instill value for unity. You can do this by taking time in a meeting to shift  the focus by celebrating the gold in everyone. You will feel the atmosphere shift immediately as God’s presence fills the room. You will also feel the effect in your team’s efficiency, creativity and joy. 

4. Encouragement Expresses Belief.

As a leader, your belief in your students carries a different weight than that coming from a peer. Encouragement is an expression of belief. Your students have given you permission to believe in them even more than they believe in themselves. When you express what you see in them, being as specific as possible, they will have courage to step out of their comfort zone. Under your covering they can reach their true, God-given potential, and not shrink back to their self perception.

Moving  from Encouraging People to an Encouraging Culture

Ruth Outram, Spiritual Mentor for Bethel Tech, gives these four steps for creating culture: teach it, demonstrate it, empower it, and give feedback on it. Practically, this looks like setting aside time and stopping to take the time, then teaching on why you do that and giving individualised and specific feedback. For you, it could look like setting aside time between meetings to encourage the people you meet. Or you might take five minutes at the beginning of each staff or team meeting to publicly call out what you love about someone. Corporately, you can easily demonstrate the power of encouragement by doing this quick activation:

  1. Have everyone stand in two big circles facing each other (an inner and an outer circle).
  2. Explain that they are going to encourage the person in front of them by sharing everything good they can think of about him or her. Inspire them with an example, and clarify that they are not prophesying (if that is a necessary clarification for your students).
  3. Have the people in the outer circle go first and give them 30 seconds to encourage the person in front of them (who is part of the inner circle).
  4. Call out, ‘switch’ and give the inner circle 30 minutes to do the same.
  5. Ask the people in the inner circle to rotate in one direction so they are standing in front of someone new from the outer circle. Repeat steps three and four.

Continue as long as you want. When you end it ask, ‘who feels encouraged?’ and have them raise their hands. The atmosphere will feel light, loving and chatty. Make sure everyone notices the shift and give them a charge to continue encouraging people, e.g., a person a day.

An Encouraging Culture Creates Healthy Feedback

Constructive feedback looks ahead at the bigger potential. Healthy and unhealthy feedback have the same distinction as punishment and discipline.

Punishment looks to the past and with shame says, “you are bad.” Discipline looks to the future and with love says, “you are better than this.” 

The purpose of feedback is to make someone aware of their greater potential. In a culture of encouragement, healthy feedback naturally follows. When you live with the humble approach to always call out the gold in people, you will see the value each person brings to the table. This will mean you genuinely have value for others’ input in your own life as well, and the people around you feel permission to give you feedback. Set with healthy boundaries, this is your framework for raising your feedback culture to kingdom levels. A culture of encouragement can reduce the common pitfalls in having an open feedback culture drastically.

A culture of encouragement is kingdom culture. The world is starving for encouragement, and we have the Encourager living inside of us. Encouraging someone out of a pure heart is always needed and never inappropriate. You have it within your power to shift the focus of your team and your students through simple words of love. When you shift your focus to what is right, unity will be your norm and you will model a lifestyle of thinking like God. Bring Heaven to earth today by telling someone how valuable they are. 

Clara recently graduated from her third year of BSSM and is from Denmark. She is passionate about seeing Jesus get His full reward in ALL of society, specifically in the accepted ways of thinking, living, believing and relating to each other and God in culture, not only in the church, but in the whole of society. She does not believe revival is only to effect the people who move into the church building, and she wants to see the power of God move in the forces of our intellect to set the direction of a nation.

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