Acts 11:22-24 “The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.”
I heard a fellow evangelist once say, “Give God the glory but send me the check.” While this may to some sound like sacrilege, that man had to put gas in his car to get to the church, feed his family and pay numerous other expenses.
Encouragement comes in many forms, but so does discouragement. Failure to encourage pastors may be a leading cause of many God-called men to leave the pastorate. I have found even on construction jobs, to compliment or give approval of a “job well done,” gives encouragement.
We know pride is not considered appropriate for a Christian. First Samuel 2: 3, “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” The word pride in itself indicates a self-approval and lack of crediting God for one’s abilities.
However, we are still humans, even after believing in Christ Jesus and becoming indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Matthew 3: 11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”
Our human side comes out in the sense of needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows us a human requirement for approval. The fourth tier, above physiological, safety, and belonging is the need for approval, also called the “esteem” need. God made us to fellowship with Him, worship Him and revere Him, but He also made us flesh, blood and brain. We have needs that go beyond bread and water.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 writing, “A Theory of Human Motivation.” While Christians are spiritual beings, (Genesis 1: 27, 1 Corinthians 6: 19), we are also human. Until we can successfully address both realities of our character, we will be torn between the two.
The second and third tier of Maslow’s hierarchy is safety and belonging. I am firmly convinced a great number of church attenders are in their pews for exactly those reasons. The need for acceptance and inclusion are paramount in the hearts and minds of many even if they do not realize it or are willing to admit that fact. These characteristic needs of mankind are given by God and a part of the human psych.
I was an industrial arts (shop) teacher. I found it slightly disturbing at the time to be encouraging to my students by praising their work (if justified) and honoring the Christian prerogative of denying pride. I chose to offer praise when deserved and correcting when required.
Not to be encouraged has led to the failure of many people. Many have what I believe is an inherent proclivity to quit because of lack of encouragement. Personally, I do not want to be the cause of someone being disillusioned to the point of giving up when there was a great potential, if one had just made one more attempt.
I have been retired almost as many years as I taught in secondary school. To be totally objective (or as totally as possible for me), I sincerely believe I have learned more about human nature in my retirement years as I did in six years of college and twenty-seven years of teaching. A Bachelor of Science degree and two Master’s degrees taught me little or nothing about people.
I can honestly and unequivocally state, I am not the same person I was when I walked out of a public school in June of 1996. It is not my perception, because I have been told a few times, “You are such a strong person, I don’t see how you keep on,” (or something of that nature). That is not entirely true. I am one to persevere and much weaker than I apparently appear. I believe in an unwavering state of determination but also support the right to put “it” behind me.
I am inclined to think there are many in the world that can identify with my feelings. I now live in Florida and the propensity to discourage people is over-whelming. Very rarely does anyone say anything to lift someone up, usually it is the opposite. I have two very close friends that are Barnabas type encouragers, and if it were not for them, I’d probably quit.
My wife is my greatest encourager and I praise God for her every day. She proof reads my articles and I know she’s going crazy because she cannot proof the You Tube videos (Sunday morning with Bro Van # 1-24).
I know there is a very thin line between encouragement and flattery. Sincere, heart-felt encouragement is a treasure. Flattery is usually transparent as glass. Be careful and genuine in your encouragement and never hesitate to offer it. We all need it, at least occasionally.
To see the clicks on face book and read the comments on the blog and You Tube videos is encouraging. I also find encouragement in those disagreeing with me. It means they’re thinking and reading. At times I’ve almost stopped the work but a much needed word of encouragement came along at just the right time and that’s all I needed to be off and running again. I’m so easy!
I’ve received several calls, emails and messages of encouragement concerning the newspaper articles and value them greatly. I fully well know everyone does not agree with everything I say or write. Of course, we don’t all think alike! That’s to be expected.
I urge you, be an encourager. Anyone can tear down but it takes a real man to build someone up. We can all preach and teach Jesus, and be kind to other people. May God greatly bless you, and thanks for reading.