I just want to add that I have received such genuine encouragement from this blog and that it seems that this is a very felt need with a lot of people. Always seems to be plenty of people to tear down and I’m not saying we shouldn’t push on people, challenge, I’m not saying it’s like most of society today, tell everyone they’re wonderful. It is strange for so many they just hear the down side, the criticism, and for others they’re enabled in their negative and destructive lives. Anyway, I appreciate the positive feedback I’ve received from some very genuine people, their encouragement was very much appreciated.
We who write these Christian blogs often seem to be writing to or for ourselves. That’s actually a good thing, we aren’t going to have the world patting us on the back. But when I put out a signal for encouragement and I got it. People like Wally Fry is a regular encourager, it’s almost like he looks for the opportunities and I try to look to encourage too. Real nice note from anitvan, that there are lay people out there who do have a ministry of encouragement. Please give your input, and when I deserve it let me know where I could improve, I have no doubt I need a lot of improvement. And I’m not saying there will be times when you shouldn’t ask “what were you thinking? Or that’s not the way to do that!” I appreciate that too, if someone’s willing to take the time to make me better, I am very thankful. Thanks to all who take time to read these blogs and I hope that I can encourage many of you as much as you’ve done for me. In the meantime let’s keep talking to each other and building each other in Jesus.
I’m not going to be Pollyannish in this post, but boy/wow, how much does it mean to have someone being there to encourage you. And yes, that does not mean blowing sunshine up your skirt. It means that seeing a brother or sister in Jesus and others who are trying to get where they should be, to be there to help them to move.
Seems I have plenty of people who want to make sure I know the downside to everything, and I think this fits in with my previous blog. Satan sure likes to help other people see how stupid and misguided you are and how much they should help you get straightened out.
Absolutely there are times when I am not going the right way. Sometimes others might perceive that. You want to open mindedly give me a little gut-check, you go right ahead. I have no problem with someone trying to have “my six”. Having said that, there seems to be a lot of people who just gratuitously seem to think they should make sure you know their opinion on everything, no matter how irrelevant or uninformed. Hey, how about this for a thought? When you are kind of wondering what’s going on, come on over and say something to the effect: “Hey Pastor Jim, saw what was going on and wondering how it was going. Need any help? I will keep you in prayer. Can I ask one question about …” For those who know me, they know, I will tell them. If I’m really missing something, Puhlease tell me and I will be most grateful. If I have anticipated what you’re saying and have a snappy answer, encourage me, strengthen me. Please tell me how much you know that I am trying to do what’s best, to serve Christ’s Kingdom and His church. Please tell me that you’re there for me and want what’s best for all of us. Yea, the Blackabys (they prompt me for a lot of things that have really been on my heart, as if God is putting one of their devotionals in front of me because I need it then and there), they point out how many times: “Scripture testifies of many whom God enabled to encourage others.” (Experiencing God Day by Day p 333) They talk about Jethro encouraging Moses. Epaphroditus and Barnabas. Jodi Hooper writes:
“For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles. – Acts 4:36-37 NLT
From this first mention of Barnabas, we learn several important things. We learn that he was generous. Just like Jesus, he put others before himself. When Barnabas sold his land, he didn’t keep the money to buy what he wanted. He gave it to the apostles to share with the other believers. We see that his parents named him Joseph, but he was such an encourager that those who knew him started calling him by the nickname of Barnabas – Son of Encouragement.” (https://bible.org/seriespage/3-paul-and-barnabas-acts-13-14)
The Blackabys talk about Mark and Luke being there to encourage Paul.
Wow, to have an encourager like Barnabas, Mark or Luke, is absolutely priceless, truly a gift from God. I’ve been in leadership positions before, but wow, seems like in church leadership there’s someone to tell you how messed up you are, quicker than someone who’s telling you to keep going, you’re doing great, I’m with you. Chuck Swindoll talks about those who feel they have a “ministry of criticism”. That they feel it’s their job to pick everything apart. I sometimes feel that people are convinced that I’m clueless and need all of their input. I really don’t. I’d really appreciate if they hear me out and give me a chance. I was put here to be the pastor, maybe, just maybe, I might have better perspective, information, education, experience than you. I’m not saying don’t come to me, or just tell me what I want to hear. I am saying if you really want to know, hear me out, be a part of the group, let’s work together. Don’t just stand over me and tell me how messed up I am, and I know full well you have no idea what the real deal is.
If you don’t know, be an encourager. I’m not saying enabler, but you have to understand that I’m there for the right reasons, I’m trying to do things for the right reasons and I’m working hard for the right reasons. All things being equal, give me some positive reinforcement, let me know you trust me and want what’s best for me, for the church, everyone in the church and let’s get moving on. God has had people step up into my life to be there for me at just the right time. I don’t know where I would have been otherwise. I’ve had some people be there just for a season and others for a lifetime and I am so grateful to God for all of them. But too often too, I’ve had people who aren’t concerned with the facts, they just seem to want to spit in your Cheerios and pick me apart. I know that’s the human condition, but a lot of those people would have been far more helpful to me, themselves, the church, with some positive reinforcement. I have a lot of education, a lot of experience, a lot of desire to serve the Kingdom, a lot of initiative, help me and trust me, don’t look for ways to crumble my cookies.
I have a close friend with a unique ministry for the military who stopped by Ft. Leavenworth on a trip to the East Coast just to go to the chapel and pray with the Chaplain. The Chaplain totally broke down in tears because that had never happened to him.
You also mentioned encouraging and enabling as different things, which is so true. In the blogosphere I’ve found that some who want encouragement but don’t recognize encouragement in the replies/comments to their posts that aren’t just pats on the back, but might ‘challenge’ their thinking.
I love the post!
Hi Dan, I love your reply and the story of the military chaplain is just often (may have to rip that off 😉 ) Encouraging is not enabling us in our pity party it’s reminding us to get back out there for He who is our peace and encouragement, our Lord Jesus. Thanks much for you encouraging words and may God richly bless you.
So…I’m guessing you have been getting some negative feedback? I may be off base here, but that’s the impression I have from what you’ve written, that you are feeling discouraged and maybe a little frustrated. Am I right?
I’m sure you recognize that Satan loves when you are discouraged and frustrated. That’s his territory. He loves to take little seeds of frustration and disappointment and cultivate them into full on discontent.
You could use a Barnabas of your own, dude. ☺ I’m convinced that Satan works double-time on Shepherds and discouragement is a major weapon in his arsenal. He delights in our discouragement and seeks to turn us from hope to despair.
My prayer is that God would open the hearts of those around you to be encouragers; to lift up your arms as Aaron did for Moses when he was weak and weary; to carry you to God in prayer.
My own encouragement to you is just this: Be faithful, Shepherd. Just continue to do what the Lord of the Church has called you to do – delivering His grace to a lost world through the gifts of Word and Sacrament.
Grace and peace to you, Pastor Jim. You and your congregation will be in my prayers.
Hi, thank you very much. I didn’t do this post in terms of generating encouragement, but seems the Holy Spirit used it to that end. I really appreciate your encouragement and it’s funny because lately I’ve seen a lot of things that say the same thing, Satan does use what he can to discourage and try to redirect us from what God is doing. So thank you for reinforcing that. And I do have Barnabas’, I have been very blessed in that way. But sometimes you let the negative dominate and that’s something I have to remember to let go of. You are an awesome encourager and I appreciate your kind words and that you would take the time to be a Barnabas. May God richly bless you and give you more of His grace and peace. Pastor Jim
There is a lovely woman in our congregation, a spinster (as they used to call it) who every week, wrote a handful of encouraging notes to random members of the congregation. Each year you could count on getting 2-3 little notes from her. Apparently she’d been doing it long before we arrived. When I had cancer, her notes came to me weekly. And it meant a lot.
I would really like someone that to know how absolutely huge her “ministry” is. Knowing that someone is out there praying for you and getting notes of encouragement from her, especially when most of the feedback you get is pointing out somewhere that’s lacking, which I usually get. Thank you again, I really appreciate your thoughts.