Last week, Danny shared with me a snippet he heard from a sermon. In the message, this very successful minister talked about his struggles with discouragement. He talked about how, after every week of sharing God’s word, he always doubts himself. He always questions if he has messed everything up and if the message has come across clearly. But then he shared about one man who attends the church, a senior citizen, who without fail, every single week, calls to tell him how impactful and powerful the message has been. This man always shares with the preacher how his message relates to his own life personally and how thankful he was that God was speaking. While this 79 year old man has no idea, he plays a huge role in keeping this very well-known minister encouraged to fulfill his calling.
As I was thinking through what a powerful thing encouragement is I was reminded about Paul’s words regarding the gift of encouragement in the book of Romans.
If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.
So simple, yet so profound. The very act of being encouraging requires faith. It requires a person to look past a world of problems, the distance that still needs to be walked, and often times requires the encourager to ignore changes that need to be made in order to see the gold and HOPE in another person or situation. Choosing to be encouraging requires stepping into a situation where many times the large majority of people are focusing on all of the problems and making the decision to speak life; to focus on all of the wonderful things that God is doing in the midst of turmoil.
When a person steps out to encourage someone else they have to have faith. Many times they have to stand solely in faith when there is no response when they choose to encourage someone else. By faith they have to continue to sow those seeds of encouragement, trusting that God will bring forth fruit through their obedience. And trust me, He always does.
The gift of encouragement is overlooked. Because of that, sadly, I believe most times we as people of God forget what an incredible tool it is to empower and charge those to do the work so greatly needed to reach the lost, feed the hungry, and direct the masses to Christ. When one person holding the gift of encouragement chooses not to speak the words that God has laid on their heart to lift up another person, they potentially alter someone else’s ability to fulfill what God wants them to do because they may be battling discouragement in their calling. The person that I did not encourage may be the person that has to share a message with hundreds of people and because of their lack of encouragement they feel like giving up. The person that I did not encourage may have an outreach that could provide food, shelter, or families to many broken and hurting children- but they feel their work is too great, so they give up. In this way the person that holds the gift of encouragement potentially has the ability to feed the masses the word of God by simply speaking a word of life to another person!! What an incredible gift!
Over the last year we hit some very discouraging places in our adoption process. We wondered if things would ever make sense. During one of these seasons, I opened up my mailbox to find a letter from a fellow adoptive mom who lives several states away from me. This friend has a very busy life and a very full home. She didn’t offer any excuses, but instead, in obedience to God, sat down one day to write a very lengthy letter to me explaining all of the ways that God had worked in their family, and how she was certain He was working in ours. This was just the encouragement I needed at the time. I keep this letter in my Bible as a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness and also the power in being a obedient to encourage someone else when God requests it. There have been so many other times when a friend knew the battles of faith going on in our family and they simply took the time to email, text, or call us to share a word of encouragement to us- always exactly what we’ve needed to keep fighting.
If you have the gift of encouragement, I want to encourage you! What a valuable member of the body of Christ you are! Do not give up whenever you do not see immediate fruit from your acts of encouragement! You are sowing seeds that will undoubtedly bring forth a mighty harvest! If your gift is encouragement, be encouraging!