Have you ever wondered what kind of person God wants you to be? Although our talents, personalities, abilities, and backgrounds may differ, the Scriptures reveal some basic traits the Lord desires for all of us. Every one of us is called to develop a heart for encouraging others (1 Thessalonians 5:11). To encourage someone is simply to let them know they’re not alone, to go to their side and walk with them on their journey. The Christian life is not one of isolation and independence but of relationship and interconnection. Although some of us are more outgoing than others, we can each express encouragement in our own unique ways. We may have no idea what an impact our gracious words, sound
One of the prime examples of an encourager in Scripture is Barnabas. His name means “son of encouragement,” and that’s exactly what he was. He’s first mentioned because of his eagerness to help the believers in Jerusalem. After selling a piece of property, he gave the money to the apostles so they could distribute it to whoever was in need (Acts 4:36-37). On another occasion, he brought Saul, a former persecutor of believers, into the church, assuring them that he was now a Christian (Acts 9:26-27). Barnabas could never have known the importance of this one act of kindness. Eventually, the infamous Saul would become the great apostle Paul who encouraged countless others as he traveled around the world planting churches.
God wants to use each of us at various times and in different ways to encourage others. This means we must be alert to people the Lord brings across our path and make ourselves available, even when it’s inconvenient or we feel as if we have nothing to offer. If we ask the Lord, He’ll give us the wisdom to know what to say or do as we come alongside others.
To become an encourager, we must first give others our time and our undivided attention (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20).
Second, we can encourage others by helping to meet their needs (2 Corinthians 1:5-7). This might come in the form of comforting those who hurt, affirming those who struggle with low self-esteem, spending time with the lonely, or simply meeting someone’s practical needs. For example, if I didn’t have a few staff members who come to my rescue every so often, my computer would be a disaster.
Third, Christians are called to build each other up spiritually (Romans 1:11-12). When people are struggling to trust the Lord in hard times, they need someone to remind them of God’s constant presence, unfailing promises, or unlimited power in their situation. Sometimes it’s helpful to point out an applicable verse of Scripture that gives God’s perspective, instructions, or comfort. Another aspect of spiritual encouragement is warning someone who’s headed down the wrong path and offering loving correction.
Finally, encouragement is a motivator (Hebrews 10:24-25).
The Lord will richly bless both you and those you encourage. You never know what a difference your gracious words or actions might make in someone’s life.