In need of a pep talk? Don’t give up!

If you participated in sports in school or in a summer rec program, you undoubtedly needed or received an occasional pep talk from your coach.

The fact is we all can benefit from a timely pep talk in life.

COVID-19 and social distancing are the issues front and center in 2020. If you haven’t felt any anxiety, stress, or discouragement this year, you may be less than completely honest. If you honestly don’t feel any of the above, feel free to skip reading the pep talk below. You won’t hurt my feelings.

To the rest of us who realize that there are challenges to overcome during these difficult days, let me offer the following pep talk – Don’t Give Up!

Okay. So, it’s not original. That doesn’t make the advice any less valid.

In 2019, pastor and author Kyle Idleman wrote the book “Don’t Give Up” — faith that gives you the confidence to keep believing and the courage to keep going. If you, like me, could stand some encouragement, I’d invite you to purchase the book. (And no, I don’t get any royalties for additional book sales.)

Idleman says instead of asking, “How ya doing?” what if he asked, “If there’s one thing you would change in your life, what would it be?” He asked a few thousand people on social media this question and got all kinds of responses.

Their grade-school-age child is losing the battle with cancer. They’re angry with God.

They’ve been married for less than two years. They’re ready to call it quits.

She’s been sick for too long, and the doctors have no idea why.

Another game spent sitting on the bench.

Another screaming tantrum directed at the kids.

She sees a future of unending debt.

He’s certain no one will ever love him.

If none of these apply in your situation, you undoubtedly have your own story that is just as real as any of the above situations.

Life is hard. I’m not sure I can make it in my business, job, career, school, marriage or in life. If that’s how you feel, let me offer the following three-word pep talk: Don’t Give Up!

That’s right. Don’t give up. Keep going. Hang on.

Anyone who has run a marathon knows the value of encouragement. It’s not easy running more than 26 miles in heat, cold, wind or hills. At least I don’t think it is easy because I’ve never done it. I used to run long distances like a mile or two, and that was plenty for me.

Anyway, when family or friends are standing along the marathon route yelling encouragement to the runner, it can give the runner new energy to stay the course and finish the race.

Idleman notes two main ways a person can give the pep talk. One is the Mr. Rogers approach from someone who offers comfort, a warm smile, a soft voice, a pat on the back, and an awesome sweater jacket like Mr. Rogers wore.

But what we may sometimes need is a pep talk from a person like William Wallace in “Braveheart.” He would grab you by the shoulder and likely growl stuff like, “This is not the time to give up and go home. It’s time to fight. Don’t you dare back down. You’re tired. You’re discouraged. But don’t give up!”

Notice the latter example has verbs. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Idleman said: “Encouragement is a battle cry. It’s a call to move, to act, to advance. What kind of words accomplish that? To encourage means, of course, to give courage – to ‘speak courage into.’ That’s not the same as making someone feel better. It’s not patching up a wound but rather putting a weapon in their hands. It’s giving them a fresh horse and the will to advance.

I don’t know which one you need – the blue sweater guy or the blue face guy. Probably a little bit of both. But I’ve discovered that many of us have some voices of comfort in our lives, yet what we really need is a voice of courage. We may feel the need for sympathy when what we really need is strength,” said Idleman.

No matter what life throws at you, don’t give up!