Recently, my husband and I were honored to eat lunch with national motivational author and speaker, Dr. Kevin Elko. While I ordered him a chicken Cesar salad and a Diet Coke, he finished a telephone interview with a radio station. Then he got an important call from the president of a national insurance company. Finally, he put away his phone and greeted me just as warmly as he had greeted them, “Hi! I’m Kevin Elko, and it’s such a pleasure to meet you.”
I wasn’t sure how Dr. Elko would be in person. He has written five books and spoken all over the world. He talks to Nick Saban several times a day. He consults with the Pittsburgh Steelers and numerous pro and college teams. He helps large companies set goals and build leaders. He’s a busy guy, yet over lunch, he lived up to his motto: “Be a blessing.”
That day Dr. Elko blessed me. He took great interest in my writing career and encouraged me to continue this journey of reinventing my life now that the kids have left home. He gave me some valuable ideas and suggestions. I walked away from lunch feeling empowered, like I could easily write the next best seller.
Dr. Elko has helped hundreds achieve success by encouraging them to stay focused and to persevere. Encouragement fuels success. He provides the “fuel” for large audiences almost daily, either in person or by podcast.
But even great encouragers like Kevin Elko had to have some encouragement along the way.
After he had given us a personalized pep talk, he told us a little about his life. He’s certainly had his share of struggles. He said one of the greatest contributors to his success was his mother.
In high school, Kevin brought home horrible grades, but his mom said, “I don’t care what your grades are, I care about your effort. Give me effort Kevin.” In college, when he was playing around, she kept encouraging effort, saying, “work to find your life!” When he enrolled in graduate school, some thought he would never make it. His mom kept on encouraging, “Give it your best effort every day and you will be successful.”
Now Dr. Elko has two graduate degrees and a doctorate. He did it on his own, but he was fueled by his mom’s constant encouragement. His mom blessed him; he blesses thousands (including me). Thanks Mrs. Elko, you helped more people than you know.
Kevin went on to say God gave all parents the job of encouraging our kids. He said,
“they may act like they don’t hear you, they may do the opposite of what you encourage, but never give up. My Mama didn’t, don’t you give up either.”
Pretty sound advice, I think.
After our kids leave home, the days of discipline and policing are over. Curfews and “how to” lectures are past. But parents of adult kids still have an important job, if we are willing to embrace it. We can transition from smothering and hovering into becoming their biggest fans.
I admit I haven’t taken encouragement as seriously as I should have. Encouragement is free and easy to give, but often I’m too busy giving out advice. Saying, “I’m proud of you,” is one of the most powerful things we can say to our children. Sometimes, we parents are the first to criticize and the last to applaud our own.
I don’t want to be like that. I’m sure you don’t either.
Kevin Elko showed me the value of being an encourager–especially for my children. I’ve taught my grown kids as much as I can about right and wrong, now it is my special, God-given job to:
- Praise their best personal qualities. Encourage all the good I see in them out loud and often.
- Notice their talents and continually inspire them to develop to their full potential.
- Pray for them every day to be all that God wants them to be.
Like Kevin Elko, our role is to give our children pep talks–to listen, inspire, reassure, challenge and cheer. If our kids are older, we don’t have to be the heavy so much anymore (what a relief). Even though we may be tempted to correct or control, it’s much better to encourage and pray for them, instead. I’ve learned that God designed parenting to become increasingly positive with each passing year. His plan is for us to become a source of blessing for the next generation. Wow, that beats being a nag!
You may be facing the challenge right now of parenting older teens and grown children. Its not easy to change and adapt the way you parent—I’m with you! But the idea of being your children’s biggest fan or champion is beautiful. And it is Godly. Paul taught Christians to build each other up. I think this is doubly important for parents to do.
So today I write to encourage all parents–no matter if your kids are growing or grown–with the words of my new friend, Dr. Kevin Elko:
“Don’t pray for blessing to come into your life, pray to be a blessing!”
*Dr. Elko’s latest book, The Sender, is a great novel about learning to be a blessing when you don’t feel like it. Here is the book trailer: