Clint Hurdle began sending daily notes of inspiration to a dozen colleagues in 2009 when he was managing the Colorado Rockies. He would offer support, discuss leadership ideas, and simply check in with them.
He might borrow a line from the website “The Daily Coach”: “The time is now to live more strategically and courageously while engaging in work that is filled with impact and meaning.” Or he might offer a list of his week’s resolutions such as, “Offer loving-kindness to my inner critic.”
Two years after guiding the Rockies into the World Series, Hurdle was fired. He was on a rare spring vacation when a Rockies staff member told him his words of wisdom were sorely missed. His wife asked him about filling the void. Clint took a walk and decided he would resume sending the notes.
His list now numbers more than five thousand people. You can subscribe as I did at his website.
Hurdle was a major league player for ten years and a manager for seventeen more before he was fired by the Pittsburgh Pirates last September. Now he is riding out the coronavirus pandemic with his family in Florida and scouring blogs and podcasts for things to share.
“When the numbers started growing more and more, I go, ‘This is crazy,'” he said. But, “Nobody’s emailed us back and said, ‘This is ludicrous.'”
That’s because it’s not.
Why encouragement is so essential
The Bible consistently calls us to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We are to “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
Solomon was right: “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad” (Proverbs 12:25). Scripture commands: “Exhort one another every day” (Hebrews 3:13).
Why is encouragement so important? Because it is so needed.
Measuring people by popularity, performance, and possessions is nothing new. For example, the people lauded Moses when he led them out of Egyptian slavery but were ready to stone him to death when they received a discouraging word from the spies sent into the Promised Land (Numbers 14:10).
The king of Babylon “planned to set [Daniel] over the whole kingdom” (Daniel 6:3) but soon threw him in the lion’s den instead (v. 16). Paul was lauded by the people of Lystra as a god (Acts 14:11) before his enemies persuaded them to reject and stone him (v. 19). The crowds praised Jesus on Palm Sunday and rejected him on Good Friday.
Because fame is so fleeting and this world is so fallen, encouragement from those who care for us unconditionally is food for our souls. The more we know we are loved, the more we are able to love ourselves and to love others in turn.
“Find a need and fill it”
The coronavirus pandemic has affected us in this context in three paradoxical ways:
- It is harder than ever to be physically present with others. We cannot hug them or even be closer than six feet to them.
- The more we are distanced from each other, the more we recognize that we need each other.
- We can communicate with each other via social media and other technology more easily than ever before.
Ruth Stafford Peale, wife of the famed encourager Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, coined the phrase, “Find a need and fill it.” I’m not surprised that Clint Hurdle has found a ready audience for his daily words of encouragement. He is doing just what she encourages us all to do.
This imperative is especially urgent for evangelical Christians today.
One of the challenges of standing for biblical morality is that we must stand against what is wrong as well as for what is right. However, those who endorse what Scripture forbids often censure the messenger so they do not have to deal with the message. As a result, evangelicals have become known for what we are against more than for what we are for.
An intentional, daily strategy to encourage others with biblical wisdom is one very practical way to turn this tide.
Carriers of faith and inspirers of hope
What if our culture witnessed a national movement of Christians sharing God’s love in this way?
What if every believer made an intentional commitment to share words of encouragement regularly with those we influence?
What if we made this priority a daily strategy?
Amid the fears of these days, we can be carriers of faith. Amid the challenges so many face, we can be inspirers of hope.
Think of someone whose encouragement helped you in a significant way.
Who will remember you in the same way today?