Two more times! Dad hollered from the window as I reached the top. It was the steepest, half-mile hill he could find near our town. Out of curiosity, once I put my car in neutral at the top of it and I was edging just over 70 by the time I got to the bottom. So much for telling
my dad I wanted to all-state! Day after day…Brooke, get your shoes on! At least he gave me the courtesy of honking at the quarter-mile mark to let me know I was halfway there. How nice?!
I had my 16-year-old goals! All-state and get a scholarship to play basketball.
My dad (painfully) knew how to get me there. With his constant encouragement. His constant late night trips to the gym. His constant desire to make me run this dumb hill.
It paid off!
Once he attempted to apologize for being too tough on me and my siblings. It was an unaccepted apology as I realize I would not have reached these goals had it not been for his urging me on. His belief. His exhortation!
I also remember the times I would wake up and see him at the edge of my bed praying over me. The times he asked me if I’d still been reading my bible. The times he held his tongue and let me travel to other countries to tell people about Jesus! The times he looked at my report card and said, why isn’t this above a 95? Come on dad! Brady’s girlfriend wrote his research paper!!
In addition to my dad, I had another remarkable encourager in my life. One who asked me to play in the band. Here, play this djembe. I can’t drum. Sure you can. Here open mic night…you can talk! Go to Germany. Come on this mission trip. Get on that plane and fly to Chicago! Youth pastor turned into my kids’ Pops! That’s pretty cool!
These are just two of the many! Two who have given me encouragement at the right time to accomplish more than I ever thought I could. My kids have some rockstar grandparents!
There’s a chapter from one of the classes I teach that uses an example of a hot air balloon constantly needing to be filled just as people need continual encouragement. When a hot air balloon stops being filled, it slowly starts to fall. Once it gets back to the ground, in order to go back up, it must be refilled.
For years, I have known that I picked up this trait of wanting to encourage others (hints why I have this blog). To fill them back up when they are running low. I realize I am a frazzled mess. Half the time I can’t even find the right words to say when speaking to other humans. I am far from a biblical theologian. But I love trying to convince people that they can do anything!! That they can reach their goals. That they are worth more than they know. That they are fearfully and wonderfully made. That they are loved immensely by the Creator of the universe. That they can do more than they even imagine through Him!
I was on stage at church this weekend under the baptistery. I couldn’t see who was coming to be baptized, but there were two college students. One splashed me when he came up out of the water (J.C.)! Since I couldn’t see the students, I sat there looking at the faces in the crowd. Ya know when people get married and they say, look at the groom when he first sees his bride. Well today, I had a perfect seat to watch a whole congregation of faces! The look on some of those was complete joy! That was the first time I’d ever seen that angle and it was quite fantastic!
I couldn’t help but think about the encouragement I hope they get over the years! Being a believer is joyful and blessed and full, but it isn’t a walk in the park. Fighting off temptation. Being obedient. Facing fears head on. Walking through challenges and struggles! It’s not simple. I am constantly reminded that we need encouragement!
Epiphany today. I realized the word exhortation and encouragement are synonyms. Not sure how I missed that one for years!! Struggling with my vocab these days.
The gift of exhortation is often called the “gift of encouragement.” The Greek word for this gift is Parakaleo. It means to beseech, exhort, call upon, to encourage and to strengthen. The primary means of exhortation is to remind the hearer of the powerful and amazing work of God in Christ, particularly in regard to the saving work of Jesus in the atonement. We see Paul commanding Titus to use this gift in Titus 1:9 and throughout chapter 2, particularly Titus 2:11-15. He also charges Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2.
The Spirit of God gives this gift to people in the church to strengthen and encourage those who are wavering in their faith. Those with the gift of exhortation can uplift and motivate others as well as challenge and rebuke them in order to foster spiritual growth and action. The goal of the encourager is to see everyone in the church continually building up the body of Christ and glorifying God.
If you are an encourager…give it generously! If you need some encouragement…well email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I would love to hear your whole life story and flood you with exhortation! 🙂