They are there for us at our lowest ebb. Times when we most need the light of Christ to beckon through the only opened slit in the blinds of the windows of our hearts. When our minds are deranged or confused or just numb, they are there. When our hearts are overwhelmed with feelings we can’t deal with, or are struggling with, they are there. They are the rock we can cling to when we are fatigued, having been strewn out at sea. They tell us not what to do, but simply listen, and find sense for us in all the senselessness. They seek no credit for themselves, because it is for our benefit that they are there. They may be the most selfless people we know.
Then it comes as a surprise to us to learn that those that encourage us may often feel very discouraged themselves – you see, those with the gift of encouragement often have a shadow of being susceptible to being acutely discouraged.
What good is the encourager if they are discouraged? They are rendered useless for the Kingdom. It may seem ironic, but we need to keep the encourager encouraged. We need to ensure that we empathise within their despondency.
We need to care for the carer.
This may seem easy, but it is not, because most people just don’t think of encouraging people. So it is likely that the encourager will need to be ministered to by another of their spiritual kin – a fellow encourager.
If we have benefited at all from being built up by somebody, we have an opportunity, not so much an onus, to reciprocate. God has opened the eyes of our hearts through the ministry of one who helped us in that time of need. We might be on the lookout to help that one at their time of need, with what might make a genuine difference.
The glory of building people up is all God’s, but God ensures we, ourselves, are built up as a result. Those that encourage are often built up this way; God ministers to their soul because of the gift they have given – that sweet word or deed done at a timely convenience.
But we cannot assume all is okay. We should be prepared to intercede in our moments, to call upon God to give us vision of the person struggling in our midst that we might reach out.
Where would we be without that timely word or deed done to support us? Thankful to our encourager, we ensure that they, too, are okay – that they are understood – that they are encouraged so they can continue giving their gift away.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.