A Self Discovery

What is the spiritual gift of exhorting? Read more about it here

The gift of encouragement or exhortation is found in Paul’s list of gifts in Romans 12:7-8. The word translated “encouragement” or “exhortation” is the Greek word paraklésis, related to the word paraclete. Paraklésis basically means “a call to one’s side.”

Paraklésis carries the idea of bringing someone closely alongside in order to “exhort,” “urge,” “encourage,” “give joy,” and “comfort” him or her. All of these actions make up the gift of encouragement.

Enneagram and Spiritual Gifts: Six, a Loyalist and an encourager.

The Enneagram Institute defines Loyalists as “the committed, security-oriented type. Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent ‘troubleshooters,’ they foresee problems and foster cooperation, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious—running on stress while complaining about it. They can be cautious and indecisive, but also reactive, defiant and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. At their Best: internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing themselves and others.”

As I wrestled with both the positive and negative characteristics of a Loyalist, I realized that there is much to embrace about how I am wired, and there is much to pray and repent for. But both the positive and negative are opportunities for me to seek Jesus in a deeply transformative way.

I am reading Jerry Bridges’ “The Discipline Of Grace.” I felt this year Father God wanted me to learn “Grace”, His grace. There many occasions I thought God only work through clean vessels. To which Jerry Bridges replied, “Let’s assume that is true. How good then do you have to be to be a clean vessel? How good is good enough?”

When one of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “‘ Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22: 36-39).

Using Jesus’ response to the Pharisee as a standard, how good has your good day been? Have you perfectly kept those two commandments? If not, does God grade on a curve? Is 90 percent a passing grade with God? We know the answers to those questions, don’t we? We know that Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5: 48). And we remember that James wrote, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2: 10).

The point of this good-day–bad-day comparison is this: Regardless of our performance, we are always dependent on God’s grace, His undeserved favor to those who deserve His wrath. Some days we may be more acutely conscious of our sinfulness and hence more aware of our need of His grace, but there is never a day when we can stand before Him on our own two feet of performance, when we are worthy enough to deserve His blessing. At the same time, the good news of the gospel is that God’s grace is available on our worst days. That is true because Christ Jesus fully satisfied the claims of God’s justice and fully paid the penalty of a broken law when He died on the cross in our place. Because of that the apostle Paul could write, “He forgave us all our sins” (Colossians 2: 13).

My Bad Days

My biggest fear is detachment. I fear being abandoned by others. This fear makes my strength as a Loyalist also a weakness. Because I fear losing affection, value, and self-worth, often my motivation to commit, and to remain loyal to people, communities, and beliefs, is rooted in fear. This leads to anxiety and stress. In stress, I overperform and overcommit to compensate for my fear (which is probably why I initially thought I’d be a perfectionist). Often, my self-confidence and self-worth come from the affirmation of others, which means if I don’t have that, then I tend to struggle with self-doubt.

This impacts my relationship with God because I will often project a lack of public affirmation onto him. So if I am not feeling affirmed by the community around me, I can assume God also isn’t affirming me. In this way, relationships take the place of God in my life and can easily become an idol. Your boss at work, friends, and family can all sound like the voice of God in my ear. This cripples my ability to actually hear from God, and shifts my faithfulness to people and communities, who, being sinful and part of a fallen world, will ultimately fail me. This type of inferiority complex could impact my ability to seek opportunities to grow. I often find myself only taking a growth opportunity when it is directed to me by someone else. This makes it hard for me to identify gifts that I have that haven’t already been affirmed by others, and avoid seeking opportunities to grow in those gifts (which has been true for me in my church participation) – like having my own photography business. It also could impact my ability to embrace the identity that God has given me and exchange that with false half-truths that damage the view I have of myself. As a college student, though I showed very clear leadership skills and potential, I never viewed myself as a leader because of lies that were told to me in the beginning of my discipleship as a Christian.

Since my fear of abandonment causes me to believe lies about myself, I’ve also learned to hold a few images and phrases during different seasons to remind myself about the truth of who I am daily. For example, during this season, I spend my morning prayer time reflecting on the truth that I am God’s son, and he is my Father. I look through my schedule for the day to anticipate the moments I may be tempted to believe otherwise, and declare God’s truth over those moments in faith. This has helped me not only increase my personal awareness, but also grow in emotional health.

I’m learning how to embrace both my strengths, thanking God for how I can be a gift to my communities, and how this strengthens my faith in Jesus. I’m also learning how to acknowledge my weaknesses, confessing to God where I often fall short, and diligently working on turning those weaknesses into opportunities to grow more faithful to Jesus.

Does this sound like you too?

Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.

Every day of our Christian experience should be a day of relating to God on the basis of His grace alone. We are not only saved by grace, but we also live by grace every day. This grace comes through Christ, “through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:2)

Running my race.

My calling is to be your encourager so you can step into the places God has called you into. So that you can say to yourself “I am fearfully and wonderfully made for a purpose.”

I am not called to be your cheerleader. Cheerleading is reserved for a select few – those who have cultivated their physical appearance and ability. (Sometimes lesser physical attributes can derail a professional cheerleader’s career.) Also, cheerleading remains confined to the sidelines of every sport. A cheerleader doesn’t play the sport, and at the completion of the game, takes off the uniform. At the end of the game no one can identify a cheerleader – they look like everyone else in the crowd who spent their time on the bench, just watching.

Those who encouragers are active participants together in life – they play the game. The uniform is permanent – they wear a cape hemmed by God’s identify of him, character cape.The role is for life. They have a vested interest in the game continuing.

The word encourager has another word embedded within it – courage. To give encouragement is to fill someone with courage.

I’ve learned five ingredients needed to give someone courage. Fill their life with

  • Hope for a good future
  • Faith – and belief in God and His goodness.
  • Love – unconditional & unending validation of strengths & a steady wish for someone’s ultimate good
  • Prayer – quiet private prayer, and prayer as a couple – being aware you can’t solve anything, but rely on God
  • Action – the movement, the ‘doing’ , lending a hand – the active participation in what will benefit the other person.

The gift of encouragement or exhortation differs from the gift of teaching in that exhortation focuses on the practical application of the Bible. Whereas one with the gift of teaching focuses on the meaning and content of the Word, one with the gift of encouragement focuses on the practical application of the Word. He or she can relate to others, in groups and individually, with understanding, sympathy, and positive guidance. Teaching says, “This is the way you should go”; encouragement says, “I will help you go that way.” A person with the gift of encouragement can help another person move from pessimism to optimism.

I understand you. God helps me understand your need.

“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 The Message