First Saturday in February, 7:45 in the morning…I had left home about 5 to drive to Topeka.
I wasn’t feeling exceptionally encouraged…I wasn’t feeling much of anything except tired.
The person running the meeting looked at me and asked, “Chaplain, have anything for us?”
I looked around the room of about 30 people…wearing masks…hard to discern what was on their minds.
My mind quickly scrolled through some thoughts:
-First of course… I’m tired and don’t really feel like saying anything. (I rarely feel like talking in the morning)
-They look ready to get on with the day…had enough talking
-What good do my little talks actually do anyway?
“No”, I said, “I’m good.”
Immediately after the meeting two people came to me and said, “I was disappointed you didn’t say anything, I was needing some encouragement.”
I heard similar things later in the day…I wish I had offered a few words…I had some.
Who doesn’t need encouragement? Who isn’t at least sometimes, discouraged?
What does it take to encourage someone? A Lot, a little? The perfect word?
What does it feel like, look like to be discouraged? What things discourage you?
What does it feel like, look like to be encouraged? What things encourage you?
How important is being encouraged to thriving? What about surviving?
We want to CONSIDER these things today.
We want to consider the vital importance, as leaders, of being encouragers.
We need to carefully and consistently “consider” how to encourage others…it doesn’t take MUCH to encourage people SOME…and some is really important.
SOMETIMES, SOME IS MUCH
We tend to look for the “home run”…or the right word or action that will lift the fog, motivate and inspire…this is unrealistic.
What if we simply encouraged a little bit…how important is that?
What if we do a little bit over a long time, what then? Encouragement needs a foundation.
-Not just how I feel about things, but what is real about things
-“There is nothing to be encouraged about right now” -no…There is a permanent reason to be encouraged
Encouragement needs a focus.
-Encouragement “towards” an end, not just generic feelings.
Encouragement needs a friend.
-Very often encouragement comes from outside of us, to the inside of us…from another person.
Let me read Heb. 10, look for encouragement’s: foundation, focus, and friend.
Hebrews 10:19-25 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Foundation: Full assurance in the acceptance of God through the blood of Jesus.
-We have reason to be encouraged. A permanent, lasting reason.
-Encouragement is not just hung in midair…the foundation for “being” encouraged, having good courage is relationship with God. His faithfulness not ours.
Focus: Towards love and good deeds.
Love expressed in practical actions is the focus of our encouragement. Not just feeling good, but the ability to do good.
-Encouragement has a missional not just a feel-good focus.
Friend: We are to give consistent and careful consideration as to how to spur one another one. How to encourage one another.
-If I consider how to encourage you and you do the same for me…it works quite well.
Specifically we want to be the kind of friends who: “Consider how”:
This implies concentrated thought.
To Spur one another/stir up: A striking term that could be used for someone inciting a riot, or provoking someone.
-Here of course the provocation (pra vo cation) is towards love expressed in good actions.
We are to consider how to provoke one another to love and action.
The whole thing is filled with proactivity…with intentionality…with energy and power.
And yet…it doesn’t take much.
Presence, words, a hand on the shoulder, a prayer.
But it does take CONSIDERATION.
CONSIDER HOW TO ENCOURAGE
The word used for encourage here is: parakaleo (call out, call alongside)
A word used for the Holy Spirit is: paraclete (comforter)
Joining someone on a journey and speaking words that encourage the traveler to keep pressing on despite obstacles and fatique.
*Robert Garner: matching boys with men in our group -He considered how to encourage: the boys and the men.
I know much has been said and written about the love languages…how people are loved, encouraged in different ways…gifts, deeds, touch, words
But biblically…everyone needs to hear words of encouragement.
Faith comes through hearing.
-Words that have a gospel foundation…spoken truth
-Words that have a proactive focus…not just to feel better be to make us be better do better
-Words that flow from a trusted friend…they tend to encourage the most.
*I am not suggesting that we throw around platitudes or even ill-timed verses.
*I am also not saying people don’t like different kinds of expressions of love.
We are talking about encouragement specific to a life lived in line with the gospel.
This requires words…words of truth, words that are thought through and given to others.
*The writer of Hebrews begins this passage with the foundation of the gospel, our acceptance before God because of Christ.
We need to continually hear words that move our hearts towards the truth of God…others need that from us.
FOUR M: mission, member care, meetings, mentor
Foundation to all of these is the necessity of being and staying encouraged.
*You need to be encouraged as a leader
*The people in your group, like you, leak encouragement and need a steady supply.
Not so much looking for techniques but the principle of “considering how to encourage”…giving attention to it.
*You don’t have to “hit a home run”… you don’t need the “perfect word”.
Just consider how…keep thinking about it, so you will keep doing it.
Don’t measure by whether or not their face responds.
Don’t measure by whether or not they say “wow, I’m so encouraged.”
Don’t measure in the moment at all.
Just consider how…give it your best shot…and leave it with God.
Model this for your group and in your group.
It will look like you, not like someone else…it needs to look like you…don’t try to do it like someone else.
Learn from people who are good at it…but don’t try to be those people.
Okay, let’s consider.
Take some time with your LA or by yourself…to think through your group, or even just people God has put in your life.
How can you “provoke” them to love and good deeds…to encouraged hearts?
Encouragement happens best in community
1. People are hurting more deeply than we (and sometimes they) know.
* “Yea, that includes me…I can’t encourage, I am discouraged”
2. Relationship with Christ provides resources unique and indespensible heal now and perfectly heal forever.
3. Only an encouraged community will be able to sustain missional involvement.
Larry Crabb Encouragement: The Unexpected Power of Building Others Up.
*Yesterday, I had a do-over.
*As I drove to Topeka I considered to encourage the folks there.
*When they looked at me and asked if I had anything, I said “Yes”
– I didn’t feel like it…but I did have some encouragement for them…and they were, in fact, encouraged.