How Well Do You Receive Encouragement?

1 Thess 5:11 If you dish out a lot of encouragement, how well do you receive it? Encouragement builds up the body!

A few years ago, my pastor publicly honoured me for my contribution to the local body as well as my international internet ministry. She did so just as I finished sharing a brief testimony to God’s goodness during a corporate time of sharing. I was scurrying 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 me as I made my way past them.

Even before I sat in my chair, the Lord had my attention. He was not too 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 loved to pour out words of blessings when I pray for others. Nothing thrilled me more than when I knew such a word landed in a person’s spirit right when they needed it.And yet, here was I, the ultimate encourager, refusing to accept the encouragement of others.

The Lord would not let this issue go and brought it to my attention several times during the weeks that followed. He reminded me of emails that people sent, thanking me for the web ministry. I dismissed their emails as people just being kind. He reminded me of how quickly I passed over a compliment a cashier gave me when she told me I made her day every time I passed through her line.

Humbly, I apologised to my pastor for not receiving her word of encouragement and pastoral blessing over my ministry. After a quick hug of forgiveness, my pastor used the moment to impart a wise word of advice born from decades of ministry experience. Receive encouragement as a treasured gift. Personal encouragement is a rare commodity when you are in leadership.

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 in our lives. Think of words of encouragement as ‘supplements’ that build your spiritual muscles. Athletes know that nutrition plays a significant role in their training regiment. Too much resistance training without proper nutrition results in an athlete’s performance dropping significantly.

Personal Application

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.

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All Bible verses, unless otherwise attributed, are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

Until Next Week

©2017 Katherine Walden

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