The smelly guy at the gym and his gift of encouragement


I didn’t think I was going to make it. In fact, I wasn’t even really committed. As I pushed the start button on the treadmill I had no idea how far I would run this day. But, as one mile turned into two and two turned into three, before I knew it I was halfway to my goal.

Once a week I get onto the treadmill and attempt to push myself to the limit. It involves heavy breathing, lots of sweat, and sheer will power. More than once the thought has crossed my mind that I am going to be that one person who flies off of the end of the treadmill and crashes to the floor. Why is it that we never see that? I can’t tell you how often I’ve asked myself this question as I accelerate my speed just a little bit more when my legs already feel like Jell-O!

When I was 45 minutes into my hour long run a man stepped onto the treadmill next to me. I was immediately struck by his “gym odor”. He must have worked out REALLY hard that day because it became difficult for me to take deep breaths without wanting to gag. This was the point in my run where deep breaths are necessary to make it to the finish. Turning my head away from the smell I would take a breath before facing forward once again. I attempted to put my hand by my nose to “nonchalantly” block the odor. Nothing was working!

As my run ended, my neighbor, who I had been eager to get away from, tapped me on my shoulder. I assumed I had dropped my towel or maybe he was going to tell ME how smelly I was, 🙂 but that wasn’t the case. Instead he looked at me and with a huge smile said “Good job”.

I had a few more minutes before heading home and as I looked across the gym I caught sight of my running “buddy”. Through all of the machines I could only see his legs. It was in that moment I realized that this encourager had a limp. He was slow, but steady. Half-running and half-walking. He was continuing on, committed to what he had begun as he stepped onto the treadmill that morning. It made me even more grateful for his comment as I realized that his own ability did not take away his recognition of a job well done by someone else. He didn’t compare himself to me and try to keep up. He just wanted to tell the girl running next to him that she did a good job.

I want to remember that even on hard and challenging days, when I’m limping along, I can extend a word of encouragement to my kids, my husband, my friends and even a stranger by simply saying, “Good job.”

Take a moment today to look around and observe the talents, gifts, and strengths you see in others. Maybe they’re discouraged. Maybe they’re ready to throw in the towel and quit. Maybe, like I was that morning, they don’t know if they’re going to make it. Encourage them. Affirm them. Be the one who takes the time to smile at them and say “Good job”.

“Therefore encourage and build one another up…”

~I Thessalonians 5:11




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