This is #18 in a series of blogs by PJ on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This blog deals with the gift of encouragement.
There are two schools of thought about this gift: some believe that it simply refers to actions and words that bring encouragement to individuals churches. Others believe that it also refers to a ‘deeper’ ministry of counseling and consolation. I think that both are valid expressions of this gift. Some people may be better at one aspect or the other. Those with this gift are skillful in considering how they may spur others on to love and good deeds (Heb 10:24).
An under-utilized gift
I feel this gift is not properly understood and utilized, and too quickly dismissed as a ‘light-weight’ gift. On the contrary, it is a mighty gift of apostolic importance that is necessary to counter the accuser of the brethren. Churches and individuals desperately need courage put into them by people operating in this gift.
Examples in scripture
• Acts 14:21: ‘Paul … won a large number of disciples, strengthening and encouraging them to remain true to the faith”.
• Acts 16:40: ‘Paul … met with the brothers and encouraged them”
• Acts 11:23: ‘Barnabas encouraged those at Antioch’. Barnabas means ‘Son of Encouragement’ (Acts 4:36). He believed in Paul and got him into his main ministry.
How will I know if I have this gift?
Like Barnabas, you will believe in people and loyalty and stickability comes easy to you. You will communicate this faith and hope that you have through words, letters, gifts and actions. You will be able to look beyond the trial and try to motivate others with the coming victory (Gal 6:9-10). You will be able to compliment and praise people without flattery, and you will naturally see the best in others. You gain satisfaction from seeing another person ‘fired-up’ again and going on with God. People will feel better after being around you, feeling hope and faith – courage has been put into them. A preaching gift laced with this gift of exhortation can be a powerful mix. Referencing the counseling aspect of this gift, you will find that you have patience and wisdom to give people advice.
How can I grow my gift?
Pray for more of it. Study diligently. Seek out a mentor to learn from with the same attitude of Elisha in 2 Kings 2:2-9.
This was originally published on the GodFirst Blog.