When was the last time you nurtured someone, or were nurtured by someone? Is nurturing a part of your life, or is it a word that you’ve only thought about a handful of times in your life?
Mother’s Day was yesterday, and as a new mom, I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for mothers and the way they operate. When defining “nurture,” I would say it’s very difficult to not picture a mom cradling a child. “Mom” and “nurturing” go hand in hand. It’s part of the job.
You don’t have to be a mom to be a nurturer, though. You also don’t need a mom (or mother figure) to be your sole provider of nurturing. Nurturing knows no age, location, or gender boundaries. Anyone can nurture and anyone can be nurtured.
Why, though? Why add nurturing to your already full plate? Is it really that important to experience nurturing?
Bottom line: nurturing is something God has called us to do.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
We all have a God-given love inside us. We aren’t meant to hold that for ourselves. The key ingredient in nurturing is having a loving, compassionate spirit toward those around us. While not inherently natural to all of us, we should strive to be a nurturing presence.
Here are three ways you can nurture (and why):
- Tell someone you love them (and strengthen that relationship in the process): You don’t have to actually say the words “I love you” to someone (but you can if that fits the relationship!) to communicate to those around you that their existence and influence are something you don’t take for granted. Give an unsolicited compliment. Praise the recent efforts of your team, even if the outcome wasn’t what was hoped for. Inject a moment or two of positivity into someone’s day without expecting anything in return.
- Encourage communication (and actually listen): How do you feel when your voice isn’t heard, or even encouraged? Pretty downtrodden, right? If you want to nurture and grow the strengths and spirits of those around you, let them know that what they have to say is something you’d like to hear. Then listen when they speak.
- Become someone’s warrior (and learn to fight with love): Nothing boosts you more than knowing you’re not alone, that you have someone in your corner with you. This role can wear many uniforms. It might be faithful prayer, it might be a career ladder rung connector, it might be a sounding board, and the list goes on. Whatever those around you desperately need, if it fits in your wheelhouse, be it. Putting yourself in the advocate role shows you care and speaks volumes of the depth of your heart.
Start nurturing today. Pick one person in your life, at work, at home, at church, anywhere, and seek out a way to be a nurturing presence in his or her life. God has given you His spirit of love. Use it!