God made us male and female — wonderfully complementary. Clearly He designed us for marriage, but we are also in a position to be a uniquely positive influence on each other. Sometimes it is a woman's encouragement that brings out the best in a man, and a man's encouragement that brings out the best in a woman.

Whether or not you have a significant other, there are people of the opposite gender in your life for whom your encouragement could mean more than you realize. Think about your parents, siblings, extended family, platonic friends, co-workers, children, professors, bosses or others in your life, and choose three of them (opposite gender) to encourage personally today.

Once again, this challenge has reminded me how easy it is to take the people I care the most about for granted.  Offering words of encouragement to my female friend should come as a no-brainer, so when I found it difficult - indeed awkward - today, I was a bit embarassed.

In all honesty, these are some of the best women I know.  They enrich my life, are constantly encouraging their own friends, and are incredible wives to their husbands.  Yet I still found myself stepping outside my comfort zone while taking time to personally encourage them.

To respect their privacy, I won't list any names here.  But between children being raised, church programs being run, and no-profit counselling centers being started, these are three incredible women - three incredible friends.  They take on far more challenges that I'm personally willing to, and excel at each and every one of them.  Truly, these women deserve encouragement for the wonderful undertakings in which they're involved.

I can say for certain that my words of encouragement did have an impact - a positive one - and I'll be sure to follow them with many more as time goes on.  This is definitely something I want to be comfortable doing, so I need to work on expanding my comfort zone by stepping outside it more often.