Barnabas was known as a son of encouragement. Wouldn’t you love to be known as that? As an encourager? Last week we looked at courage. This week we consider en-courage-ment. Here are eight encouragements to be a better encourager.
- Encouragers Imitate God. God praises people. Far-from-perfect people. Sinful people. There may be bad things in their past, their present, or their future, and yet God praises them and inspired the biblical authors to record that praise. Noah: “You are righteous before Me in this generation.” Job: “There is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil.” Roman Centurion: “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” Nathanael: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Canaanite woman: “O woman, great is your faith!”
- Encouragers Glorify God. God is glorified when we recognize and highlight the work he is doing in other people. In fact, we rob God of praise if we fail to recognize his work.
- Encouragers Don’t Wait for Perfection. One day Barnabas walked into a messy church plant situation in Antioch, immediately pinpointed what was wrong, and started to fix it without delay. Is that in your Bible? It is not in mine. Instead I read, “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (Acts 11:23). He didn’t see imperfection. He saw progress; he saw growth; he saw increase.
- Encouragers Open the Door to Change. Far from discouraging change, encouraging the less-than-perfect actually maximizes the chances of their continuing to progress. Just recall who helped you learn at school or make progress in sports. They were the teachers and coaches who praised and encouraged you, weren’t they? Praise opens our ears and pushes us through the pain barrier.
- Encouragers Help Evangelism. Why do you think Barnabas was so eminently useful in the early church? His gift of encouragement was so helpful in evangelism. His good news spirit helped the good news get a hearing.
- Encouragers Are Honest. Honest encouragers praise only the praiseworthy, not the blameworthy. Honest encouragers praise proportionately, not exaggeratedly; they give bronze praise to bronze achievements and gold to gold standards. Honest encouragers praise simply because the person is praiseworthy. They do not praise to get something out of the person or to prepare for giving something bad to her, such as criticism.
- Encouragers Strengthen. The root meaning of the verb to encourage is “to strengthen.” That’s what encouragement does. It builds emotional, mental, relational, and even vocational muscle. Just think of how you could strengthen a family member or a fellow believer by helping her identify one of her strengths or gifts and encouraging her to exercise that gift.
- Encouragers Go Public. It is good to praise individuals privately. But from time to time we should do so publicly as well. Building an open and transparent pattern of public encouragement will, one hopes, “infect” others and spread the habit.
The world and the church needs a lot more sons of encouragement.
Real men encourage others.
- Who has encouraged you in your life and how?
- Who can you encourage in your life today?
- What are the biggest hindrances to you being an encourager?