Running My Race

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.

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 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 the 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.