Such is Encouragement

Encouragement overcomes. It takes five encouragements to overcome one negative comment or action. It cannot be over-used!

Encouragement steps out of our comfort zone. The disciples were afraid of Saul (Acts 9:26). He had persecuted them. It took faith, stepping out of his comfort zone, and disregard for his own safety for Barnabas to reach out to Paul. Encouragement can even be an act of bravery.

Encouragement can have long term results. What would have happened had Barnabas not reached out to Paul? Maybe his encouragement overcame the shame and guilt Paul might have felt? We may never know the impact of encouragement – maybe for the moment, maybe for a lifetime!

Encouragement might go unnoticed. Barnabas went alone to Paul, probably a lonely uncertain journey, but … pivotal in changing history. Encouragement does not look for acclaim – and will often mean going out of the way to deliver it.

Encouragement is personal and focused. Generalities are great – but powerful encouragement comes from focused, insightful, and personal reflection. It says, “I know you, I believe it you!” Encouragement is genuine!

Encouragement exalts others. Barnabas left a ministry to search for Paul, caring more about Paul than himself. When in Antioch, he didn’t promote “his own ministry” but saw what God was doing, rejoiced with, and encouraged them. Encouragement cheers others on, wanting the best for them without consideration of themselves.

Encouragement brings hope and confidence. Barnabas must have been fun to be with. Acceptance is relaxing and motivating. When someone sees beyond inevitable weaknesses and loves unconditionally when others walk away, hope is restored and confidence is built.

Encouragement provokes risk-taking. When Barnabas brought Paul to Jerusalem, he risked losing the friendship of the other apostles. Encouragement also enables others to take risks, it says, “Come, and if you sink – my hand will be there to catch you!”

Encouragement is humble. Barnabas’ decision to take Mark resulted in Paul and Barnabas’ separating and Luke “replacing” Barnabas. Humility was his hallmark, for he would not desert Mark, even risking “losing his ministry.” Encouragement is marked by humility.

Encouragement crosses culture and language. It is a hug, a “wink” across the room, a tap on the shoulder, a “high five.” Encouragement is a universal language that can be given, can be received, and is needed by everyone.

Encouragement is fun and friendship. Barnabas was a “people person,” he noticed and gave them focus, seeing beyond the surface. Encouragement will open the door to deeper relationships and is fun to give and receive.


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