Becoming an Encourager is a specific calling in ministry leadership. As leaders we are proved and refined and then proved and refined some more. As an Encourager of faith you will go through some of the toughest trials so that you have the experience to confirm, lend support and champion others within your influence; many of which are going through similar trials. An Encourager has perhaps the most difficult calling, because you first must be greatly affected in order to receive the Lord’s encouragement and refreshing to give you a solid testimony to share. This process of grooming for the assignment of Encourager requires complete surrender. A surrendering to the process of “becoming.” As Encouragers we must be aware that Satan’s tactics will be full of affronting discouragement meant to quiet our expression of Christ’s affirming love.
Your identity and faith will be tested. Our identity is in the Lord, always, but that identity will be tested again and again with assumptions, questions, and outright lies. These questions, lies, and assumptions will come from others as well as yourself. When our identity is questioned, “Are you REALLY loved? If God loved you this trial wouldn’t be happening. You aren’t able to do this; you are worthless,” we can start to question our faith. “Is my faith really strong enough? Do I even have faith since I am questioning God? Does He really love me?” Satan loves to distract us from Christ with these questions and accusations. His goal is to shake us up to make us question and discourage what we already KNOW as truth. When we question God we leave ourselves open to disbelieving in the fullness of His Love. When we go through this kind of testing we have the choice to atempt to ignore those questions with a defensive, “I am NOT listening” with our hands over our ears. Or we can give a big “Shut up!” to Satan by living on the offense with consistent study of scripture and continual engagement with Christ so we are ready to answer those identity scrubbing questions with Truth.
Jesus was tempted to forget his identity and lose faith when He was tempted in the wilderness by Satan. (Luke 4, Matthew 4) Satan said in verse 9, “If you are the Son of God…” He put into question Jesus’ identity in His Father. He attempted to bring question to Jesus’ faith in His Father’s plan in being led into the wilderness. Satan tried to confuse Jesus, but Jesus, continuously engaging with His Father, understood what Satan was attempting and used truth to answer the Devil’s visceral question, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
You will experience betrayal and temptation. As Encouragers our expression of love is very vocal. We lift up by engaging in joy stimulating prayers, speak passionate and soul inflaming words, teach exalting lessons, and praise to arouse confidence. We aim to inspire. Often times those very words of expression will be used to betray us. Betrayal in budding relationships, enduring friendships, and even a meaningful mentorship. Speaking with confidence and authority can intimidate even the most staunch of your supporters. You will be tempted to run, hide, and stop speaking when you have been deceived in one of your close relationships. You will be tempted to defend yourself against these betrayals. You will be tempted to even return evil with evil. You will be tempted to disengage and isolate. Don’t. This is part of the process…learning to continue in encouragement after discouragement.
We all know the story of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas. Even though Jesus predicted his betrayal I am always astounded by Jesus’ response. He remains gentle, loving and affirming to his betrayer. When Judas asks Jesus in Matthew 26 (v25), “Is it I, Rabbi?” in response to Jesus’ foretelling of a betrayal among the disciples, Jesus answers with a simple affirmation, “You have said so.” Jesus remained at the table teaching, speaking and displaying love for each of the men. He broke bread with them. He continued in His mission.
There will be false accusations and tests to your integrity. When you continue to encourage others despite betrayal and temptation there will still be those who will look for opportunities to discredit you. Sometimes the accusations will be quiet and hidden as whispered gossip. But…sometimes there will be public insinuations upon your honor that leave your reputation trounced, enticing you to attempt to preserve and secure, returning public denunciation with graceless candor. In this case the authenticity of your integrity will be found in your response. We can choose to respond with defensive evidence of our virtue and value, but oftentimes our true nature will be most evident in our silent confidence of the Lord’s intention. This thought process is not advocating to be a doormat for falsehood, but a call to rest in Christ’s promise of security lived in grace-filled obedience.
The Prophet Jeremiah was falsely accused of deserting the Babylonians and imprisoned. (Jeremiah 37-38) Despite being dishonorably imprisoned Jeremiah was faithfully fed a loaf of bread daily. The Lord provided for Jeremiah. Jeremiah says this of the Lord defending him, “But the LORD [is] with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: [their] everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.” (Jeremiah 20:11) Jeremiah remained imprisoned until Jerusalem was freed, even after giving wise counsel to King Zedikiah, but he remained obedient and full of faith that he would be provided for, exonerated, and released. Jeremiah’s integrity remained. He did not compromise himself for the world.
Your perseverance will be increased and proved. Persevering as an Encourager requires this process of refining to take place to prove the foundation of the Encourager is fortified by Christ. Without a foundation of Christ optimism and reassuring support is thin, easily riddled with holes, not beneficial for anyone. True encouragement is genuine and rich, acknowledging difficulty, not glazing over it, and full of experience, not supposition.
There will be moments you will feel like a lion and want to share all that the Lord has shared with you. Conversely, there will be moments you will feel like a mouse and want to hide and protect yourself from other Lions. The choice of the Encourager is to learn to roar of God’s goodness even when you feel small, insignificant, and need encouraging yourself. Even when your feelings try to overwhelm you. You have been given impactful influence for a reason. You are made to encourage for a reason. To be heard…To be known…To be seen…not for your glory, but for Christ’s glory.
Lean into your calling. Lean into this refining process. You are an Encourager. Abide.