1 Thessalonians 5: 11    GW

Therefore, encourage each other and strengthen one another as you are doing.

I received an email last week from a dear soul who receives the Word of the Day and it reminded me of this verse. There are others like this one, teaching us to be encouragers to one another. I have written on this call to encourage before, but it struck me a little differently last week. I thought about how much the notes you send bless me and how they keep me going when the task of writing a daily devotional gets wearisome. So, I want to thank you for your part in keeping the Word of the Day going and encourage you to be an encourager to the leaders in your life.

We have written 3119 Words of the Day. That’s a lot of devotion. I say “we” because I definitely could not do this on my own. Your encouragement is like fuel in the gas tank. I certainly would not keep this up, but for you. Of course, our Father is helping us both. He nudges you to write a note and He nudges me with an idea for the Word of the Day. It really is a team effort. As I enjoyed the refreshing I received through that email I wondered how many other pastors need a booster shot. That led me to thinking about other leaders and their need for support. I coined a phrase years ago, “Leadership comes from below.” It has multi-level meaning but one of the nuances is that those who rank below the leader need to show their own leadership by encouraging and supporting the leader. The old saying, “It’s lonely at the top,” is true but shouldn’t be.

Each one of us has the opportunity to encourage someone daily. I want to motivate you to be purposeful about encouraging others. After a period of intentionally encouraging others, it will become part of our nature to do so. While we are being intentional about encouraging folks, let’s remember our leaders. This may be your pastor, your boss or even the leader of a civic organization. You know what, it could even be a parent or spouse.

We all need encouragement. Like I said, it is like fuel. When the gas tank is empty, it is hard to keep going. I encourage you, in the name of Jesus, to find someone you can give a boost to. They will appreciate it and so will your Dad.

Building a Body

1 Thessalonians 5: 11

Therefore, encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

Each day presents us with opportunities to interact with other people. Do we ignore people or do we say a friendly “Hello?” Do we spend more time tearing people down or building them up? You have so much power. You can strongly affect other people’s day or even their self-esteem. And how do we talk to children? Do we allow them to make mistakes and encourage them or are we always critical and reproving? Do you encourage and build up the children around you? I wish to encourage you to use your power for good. Reach out to people. Say “Hello” to strangers. Encourage someone who is down or who makes a mistake. Build people up and make them stronger. And pray for others as you do. You will be doing your heavenly Father a big favor and he will be very proud of you. 

Leadership 101

1 Thessalonians 5: 11

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

I wrote in the spring on Hebrews 3: 13 which reads, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Over these last four months God has been showing me, increasingly, how important it is to be an encourager. Additionally, He has shown me that encouragement is one of Jesus’ leadership traits. Before this year I would likely not have included encouragement in a list of leadership traits. I would have been wrong. The Lord is showing that in order to become the leader He has ordained you to be, you must embrace the responsibility of encouragement.

Encouragement, as we see from today’s verse, builds a person up. A large part of leadership is building up others. All too often our model of leadership is in the correcting of others. I found an amazing quote in a book I am reading. The book is Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Dr. Jim Richards. Dr. Richards wrote, “As leaders we have assumed people didn’t really want to move forward. We have blamed their lack of faith. We have questioned their commitment. We have told them they needed to try harder, pray more, cry out to God, and a plethora of other ‘spiritual gymnastics.’ But the truth is we have never given them the right key.” In other words, when people are not succeeding at the level we are or at the level we think they should be, we question their motivation, their commitment and even their faith. Richards points out that most often those people simply have not been given the appropriate tools for success.

As ministers, we can certainly be guilty of this. Our parishioners’ lack of success is a negative reflection on us. If we do not have an answer then we can easily blame the lack of success on their faith or their commitment. Perhaps, though, if the student is not learning, we should inquire of the teacher. I admit to being challenged by this passage from Dr. Richards because I want to be the leader God called me to be. Bit by bit I am learning that only comes with the power to encourage others. We must become builders of people. 

Yahweh, our Father, has called every one of us as a builder of the kingdom. The Kingdom of God, however, is not made of brick and mortar. It is not built of evangelical trips to the Congo. It is not even in the Holy Sacraments. The Kingdom of God is Yahweh’s people. Until we place a value on the building up of God’s people we will continue to miss the mark. 

Every one of you has been called to great things in the Kingdom of God. Don’t doubt it. Let us help each other to become all that God as ordained us to be. We can be the leaders, mentors and teachers who help people attain their highest ambitions. Let’s encourage one another in this pursuit.