Quite a few years ago, my former pastor, a recognised prophet, publicly honoured me for contributing to the local body and my international internet ministry, calling me a fellow prophet. She did so just as I finished sharing a brief testimony to God’s goodness one Sunday Morning. I was hurrying back to my seat when my pastor called me back up and explained to the congregation what I had been up to behind the scenes. Embarrassed, flustered, and wishing the ground would swallow me whole, I figuratively stuck my fingers in my ears and hummed to myself, hoping the whole encouragement thing would soon be over. It was worse than a root canal! Never had the walk down the aisle back to my seat seemed so far as people applauded as I made my way past them.
FALSE HUMILITY IS AS DANGEROUS TO ONE’S SPIRITUAL HEALTH AS ARROGANCE.
Even before I sat in my chair, the Lord had my attention. He was not pleased with my reaction. He reminded me that one of my spiritual gifts was the gift of encouragement. I loved to cheer on my friends. I enjoyed supporting my brothers and sisters in Christ. I love to pass on God’s words as I pray for others. Nothing thrills me more than knowing a prophetic word lands in a person’s spirit right when they need it. And yet, here was I, the ultimate prophetic encourager, refusing to accept the prophet’s endorsement. I also disdained the deliberate recognition of my spiritual gift and office.
The Lord would not let this issue go and continued to bring it to my attention during the following weeks. He reminded me of emails people sent, thanking me for my web ministry and telling me that the words God gave me to share were the exact words they needed to hear that day. I dismissed their emails as just being kind. God convicted me of my callous dismissiveness toward a cashier who thanked me every time I checked out at her counter. She said I always knew ‘just the right thing’ to say. God’s finger was on my heart, and it was not a gentle conviction.
Humbly, I apologised to my pastor for not receiving her word of encouragement and prophetic release and blessing over my ministry. After a quick hug of forgiveness, my pastor used the moment to impart wise advice from decades of ministry experience. Receive encouragement as a treasured gift. Personal encouragement is a rare commodity when you are in leadership.
I heard a wise man say that when someone insists on thanking him for something for which all the glory should go to the Lord, he graciously accepts their thanks while ensuring God gets all the credit. Never be dismissive or brusk or reject a person’s gratitude but always acknowledge God is the giver of all good gifts, both in private and public. A gift is a gift that is never earned through our merit or talents.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word encourage as 1: to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope: HEARTEN 2: to spur on: STIMULATE 3: to give help or patronage to: FOSTER
Encouragement is the fuel we need to face future adversity and challenges. Think of words of encouragement as ‘supplements’ that build your spiritual muscle. Athletes know that nutrition plays a significant role in their training regimen. Too much resistance training without proper nutrition results in an athlete’s performance dropping significantly.
Write down the words of encouragement others have given you over the years. Treasure them, meditate on them. Trust the encouragers in your life. They see strengths in you that you would never see on your own. When a word of encouragement comes your way, don’t discard it! Take ownership of their gift to you. Ponder the words in your heart, allowing them to nourish your spiritual muscles as you press into the marathon God has set before you.
Until Next Week
©2023 Katherine Walden