My husband today made what I thought was an excellent observation in the form of an analogy. We were driving back from church and he was congratulating me on my sermon (which was nice). He said that I'd got the balance exactly right between encouragement and challenge. Then came the analogy...
If the church is a pile of burning coals then to just pile more and more coals on (AKA endless encouragement in the form of platitudes) would choke it and cause it to die. If on the other hand one merely poked at the fire(AKA challenge and criticism) then it would burn itself out very quickly and also die. BUT, by feeding a fire and poking it sometimes when needed to keep it alive, the fire stays alight and has the potential to grow.
I'm going to remember that...a healthy church needs both encouragement and challenge. Too much of one and not enough of the other makes the coals go out...
Inspired! Thanks Grant!
Sunday, August 07, 2011
Everyone needs to be encouraged...and some people are so very good at it. I am blessed with some lovely encouragers at church, people who love me for who I am and tell me when I get it right...those who appreciate my gifts and encourage me to use them all the more. I thank God for them and pray that sometimes I can be just a little bit like them.
The Bible lists encouragement as a spiritual gift: Romans 12:6-8
'We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement. if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.'
It is up there with preaching, teaching and leading...and yet so often it is the more up front gifts whcih are celebrated and talked about. This I think is a big mistake. without the encouragers in the church many would go under, may succomb to those who sadly seem to see their mission as discouragers. It is the encouragers who keep the love of God at the forefront, who make us feel enthusiastic and apprecated, who make us want to serve.
My prayer is that encouragement would be seen as a vital ministry, an essential part of the building up of the body of Christ and a truly mighty gift which when used correctly will be a force for good in the church of God.