Encouragement Is What We Offer

dronesofheaven

What We Offer

threadI want people to move ahead. To get better. To be all they can be. Over time I have seen a lot of great moments where people “get it” and move ahead. I also have seen some disillusionment.

I want to help people. But through many interactions, I have learned the following thing. A lot of people want you to endorse their actions, their decisions, bringing “confirmation” to the direction they want to go. They want you to encourage them. (Ever have a conversation with a person who is going down the wrong path? “I know he/she is not saved…not sober…a drug addict…but I love them!”)handsheadI have come to the following decision. If they are going to do it no matter what I say and it is “not to death” I am not going to get involved. If they are looking for me to “endorse” their bad decisions I will make the attempt. But I learned a long time ago, only God can change their heart. If all one wants to hear is “that’s okay” I am probably not the guy for that. I will love you, hug you, remain your friend and go on with life.

A while ago I had a friendship with a person. We had been friends for some time. Lots of interactions from meals, business and such. But one day I got the call, “I am moving.” I could tell from the tone in their voice they had decided. I loved them and let it go. A few weeks before the departure I received another call. “Why did you not tell me not to go?” I simply replied, “you did not ask.” I had known for months this was not going to be “great” but I had not been asked of my input.

God will let you make a bad decision and so will I. I will try once or twice, but if you are a) adamant in your decision and b) you are not listening, (And I don’t think you are going to die.) I am letting go.

As a prophet the expectation is that from a new covenant perspective we offer up encouragement, edification and exhortation. Everybody says it and I believe in a lot of areas we have moved towards it. Less legalism and death by “prophecy” exist now than when I began.

So let’s define those things for a moment.

Encouragement– The action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope. The act of making something more appealing or more likely to happen. Something that makes someone more determined, hopeful, or confident

I think encouragement is a new watchword. A new rallying cry. Should we encourage? ABSOLUTELY!

Edification-What about edification? To instruct or benefit, especially morally or spiritually. So if we are to edify, we are to bring benefit. Maybe through instruction…

And finally exhortation.

Exhortation-An utterance, discourse, or address conveying urgent advice or recommendations. Exhort means to urge, advise, or caution earnestly; admonish urgently. (Admonish means to caution, advise, or counsel against something. To reprove or scold, especially in a mild and good-willed manner.)

There is a manner and method of encouraging, edifying and exhorting someone to greatness. It is NOT holding their feet to the fire as that is not in keeping with grace. You can have hard conversations, show love and grace and NOT raise your voice. (If they feel like they just had a manure truck dump on their head when you are done, you probably did not do justice to the process. If they want to be anywhere else but with you, you might want to check out your delivery. It is the goodness of God that draws man to repentance. Romans 2:4 It is “godly sorrow that brings men to repentance.” 2 Corinthians 7:10)

I do have a place I am headed to.

Edification and Exhortation are often not part of the package people get. This is a big deal to me. I have had people say “you don’t encourage me.” Well, yes I do, but I also add the other two and that is often the rub.

I see lots of “encouragement” but I do not see lots of exhortation and edification much of the time. “Encourage” is a big word in the Bible. It is used 105 times. It is a spiritual gift. But let us not diminish it by forgetting the other parts and what it really means. (Check out the Greek for each of these words below.)

Lately I’ve been feeling that a lot of the things we see going on are coming through the filter of Facebook. We are so “dead set” on claiming the territory (Facebook) with goodness (All encouragement) that we are not always helping people. And while I think it is great that people are encouraging to one another I am concerned that we are delivering people from one realm of hypocrisy and dysfunction to another. If all it too were good words we would have advanced a lot further than we currently are. So good words are not the answer BUT God words are. Words that produce life and produce change.

Before you think I am too religious, lacking of grace or on the “wrong train” I ask that you would hear me out.  It is that important. I believe words have power. I believe you can create or destroy with the words of your mouth.

The other day I was speaking to a friend. I expressed my concern about this. I used the following example.

What I perceive is happening is it reminds me much of a car that has a beautiful exterior but the engine is not intact. It doesn’t mean the car is not awesome, it simply means it is missing the power or an integral part of it moving forward. It looks AWESOME! It does not mean it doesn’t have potential and it does not mean that it’s not a reality of things. What I’m saying is I think we need to add something to the understanding of affirmation. The exterior being the “encouragement” but don’t we want something more than surface or exterior? Something that can really go somewhere?

I do not think any of us want a car with no motor. (Or a motor with no car!)

I value encouragement. I am not talking about “balancing” encouragement out with something else. And I think there was a season of too little. I am talking about adding value to it.

Water is awesome. Water by itself is awesome. Water with nothing else, short of boring, is not going to sustain you as long as adding value in the form of food.

I think ENCOURAGEMENT is AWESOME! I think encouragement without exhortation and edification will NOT sustain you. You can be encouraged as all get out and still not win.

Somehow, encouragement has become confused with complimenting or praising others. While praise can be part of encouragement, it doesn’t cover the full meaning of the word. We often think of encouragement as saying nice things to others to make them feel good about themselves, but this is closer to the definition of a compliment. Encouraging someone can mean you’re giving them support or confidence, but is also means that you’re helping to develop something in them.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

In high school one of the sports I participated in was wrestling. I was good. My dad had taught me to wrestle at an early age. I continued to wrestle at the camp I went to. So, when I hit high school I was pretty good. My first “official” match was a 12 second pin for the 167 position on varsity. The senior never saw it coming. Even in a rematch I won. Yay me!

It went to my head. I was cocky. I lifted weights and worked out every day. I thought I was good. People encouraged me! But encouragement did not prepare me for my next match. His understanding of wrestling was superior to mine. My strength was good but did not help me to win. We tied. I was angry. I remember yelling at my coach, “I thought you said I was good! I’m terrible.”

I was in a position to listen now.

I learned that while I was “encouraged” I needed edification and exhortation. Just telling me I was good did not cut it. (I needed to put some “flesh” on the bones of encouragement.) Over the next year I moved up through 177, 187 and finally to what was considered the unlimited weight class in high school. At 210 pounds I thought I was pretty good.

Again I went through a period of not listening. I kept winning. One day we went to a school for a scrimmage. They brought out a giant. At over 280 pounds I was going to have my hands full, but again I had moved beyond reasonable thinking. I went in for the take down and he fell on me. Just dropped on me. And then somebody shouted to him “hey, your girlfriend’s here” and he proceeded to go nuts on me. He hurt me. I was actually feeling pain. And the next thing I knew I was looking up at the ceiling and there was a monkey hung up there with a sign that said “If you are looking up here, he’s making a monkey out of you.” It made me mad. I flipped him over, got through to the next round and pinned him.

Lesson learned. Just because you can does not mean you ought to!

Tell people they are awesome. But do not be a one trick pony on this. Learn to add the values of exhortation and edification. Embrace the process of learning the depth of these words. These three words are life to the church. They are like the marrow of the bone. The vitality and life source.

My oldest daughter was an A student, an honor student. People told her she was smart, educated and such and then she hit college. She was totally unprepared for the difference between college and high school. We spent a lot of time on the phone bringing not only encouragement, but exhortation and edification.

I understand encouragement and “positive affirmation” and what is related to that. BUT, is it honorable and life giving to tell people how great they are and not get on their team for the big picture? To not share with them through exhortation and edification? I believe we ought to affirm the awesomeness of God in a person. I think it is right to bring them into remembrance of who they are. I personally think it is abusive to encourage someone in the pathway of destruction without giving an “engine to the car”.  (“Hey, you look great on the outside but you are not going anywhere” is not the message I want to give.)

I am not asking you to just say “Hey, I believe you.” But if you want to be an amazing friend to your friends, I submit to you helping them “build a running vehicle” that does it all, brings them to maturity and enhances your friendship. (Take some time to review what the words in the Bible actually mean. I have included them below. Interesting that the word “exhort” is the same Greek word as “encourage” so if you want to be a true encourager, you will have to exhort.)

I am all for the comfort of encouragement. But what about the teaching part or the instructional part? Those have value! Telling your child they are an awesome “musician” is good. Helping them obtain instruction is better. Both are really powerful.

Only yesterday I saw the story of the straight A student issue in Maryland. Here it is. It does pose some ethical thoughts, but I am only dealing with the words of encouragement, edification and exhortation.

Students who earned straight A’s at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring have been invited to a school dance Tuesday, a celebration that starts during the final period of the school day and includes a DJ, free pizza and a game room.

Students with B’s and C’s may join in later, when classes are over and pizza is no longer served. Students with lower grades are not invited at all.

Wow! Now first of all if you know me, I believe education is powerful. (Study to show yourself approved. 2Timothy 2:15) But I do not believe success is based on it. I know well balanced, successful people who never did well in school.  I do not “like” public education but recognize it is necessary for people working. (Though maybe with all the job loss right now there is an opportunity for “parent involved” education. Let parents participate with school shortfalls, etc..) I do not like “one size fits all” education. I think everyone is an individual. I believe children are a gift, have a gift and are unique. “Train up a child in the way they are made.” (The Message says this “Point your kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost. Proverbs 22:6) My job is NOT to solve the public education dilemma. But, it is hard for me to hear people bemoan the situation and not get involved. Enough said on that.

Encouragement-How would you encourage one of the children who did not get A’s? Big question. Would you say… “You are awesome. You are amazing. You are loved by God.” And stop?

If we only stop there we have a child who may well say “great…no pizza…no dance…who cares?” (By the way I think most parents want their children to do well.) If you stop there you have not “respected” your little man nor “loved” your little woman. (Ephesians 5:25-Men need respect and women need love.) Women perhaps are hard-wired to nurture and men hard-wired to “hunt” or earn. (I realize the roles can change and NOT everyone is like that nor believes that, but begin to look around. Observe. The more single parent families you have the more it is easy to see.)

But let’s begin to add a motor. I would probably begin to ask the “why’s” surrounding grades, etc.. But then I would begin to exhort my child. Teach them to be strong in their convictions. Help them strengthen their skills. Find out what they are really good at.

Have you ever noticed a person who is solid in relationship with family and friends becomes comfortable at who they are. When “everything” is no longer is on their radar screen but fulfilling the purpose of God in their lives, other things matter less.

One of the strongest statements I ever witnessed was from a conversation about a year ago. I heard someone say, “I love ____. I am really good at it. But it is NOT what I am called to be.”

When you recognize who you are, you do not have to chase a dream because you are a “dream” and life becomes easier. When you recognize not everyone is going to like you or embrace your passions, it is freeing. You get to work on you.

“Son-I know you did not get all A’s. I love you. You have a great future. Is getting all A’s important to you? If it is I am willing to help you get better. You may have to give up time for video games or TV for me to help you, but if this is what you want I am willing to help you. I know you think it will be hard and maybe some of it will be. But I believe I can help you be a better student if this is important. “

“If you really want to be a baseball player, you are going to have to practice more. I know you like hanging out with your friends, but perhaps we can begin to go the gym together.”

“If you really want to be a mechanic or an engineer you are going to have to do your best in math and sciences.”

“Bend them in the way they should go.” When you find a person’s passion usually they will grow because of their desire. Build up what they are good at.

Learn to encourage, exhort and edify.

ENCOURAGE-Hebrew H2388

  1. to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong, be courageous, be firm, grow firm, be resolute, be sore
    1. (Qal)
      1. to be strong, grow strong
        1. to prevail, prevail upon
        2. to be firm, be caught fast, be secure
        3. to press, be urgent
        4. to grow stout, grow rigid, grow hard (bad sense)
        5. to be severe, be grievous
      2. to strengthen
    2. (Piel)
      1. to make strong
      2. to restore to strength, give strength
      3. to strengthen, sustain, encourage
      4. to make strong, make bold, encourage
      5. to make firm
      6. to make rigid, make hard
    3. (Hiphil)
      1. to make strong, strengthen
      2. to make firm
      3. to display strength
      4. to make severe
      5. to support
      6. to repair
      7. to prevail, prevail upon
      8. to have or take or keep hold of, retain, hold up, sustain, support
      9. to hold, contain
    4. (Hithpael)
      1. to strengthen oneself
      2. to put forth strength, use one’s strength
      3. to withstand
      4. to hold strongly with
KJV Translation Count — Total: 290x
The KJV translates Strongs H2388 in the following manner: strong (48x), repair (47x), hold (37x), strengthened (28x), strengthen (14x), harden (13x), prevail (10x), encourage (9x), take (9x), courage (8x), caught (5x), stronger (5x), hold (5x), misc (52x). 

ENCOURAGE Greek G3870

  1. to call to one’s side, call for, summon
  2. to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.
    1. to admonish, exhort
    2. to beg, entreat, beseech
      1. to strive to appease by entreaty
    3. to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort
      1. to receive consolation, be comforted
    4. to encourage, strengthen
    5. exhorting and comforting and encouraging
    6. to instruct, teach
KJV Translation Count — Total: 109x
The KJV translates Strongs G3870 in the following manner: beseech (43x), comfort (23x), exhort (21x), desire (8x), pray (6x), intreat (3x), misc (4x), vr besought (1x).

EXHORT-Greek G3870 (Exhort not found as exhort but encourage  in Hebrew.)

  1. to call to one’s side, call for, summon
  2. to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.
    1. to admonish, exhort
    2. to beg, entreat, beseech
      1. to strive to appease by entreaty
    3. to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort
      1. to receive consolation, be comforted
    4. to encourage, strengthen
    5. exhorting and comforting and encouraging
    6. to instruct, teach
KJV Translation Count — Total: 109x
The KJV translates Strongs G3870 in the following manner: beseech (43x), comfort (23x), exhort (21x), desire (8x), pray (6x), intreat (3x), misc (4x), vr besought (1x).

EDIFY-Greek G3619  (Exhort not found as exhort in Hebrew.)

  1. (the act of) building, building up
  2. metaph. edifying, edificationa building (i.e. the thing built, edifice)
    1. the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness
  3. a building (i.e. the thing built, edifice)
KJV Translation Count — Total: 18xThe KJV translates Strongs G3619 in the following manner: edifying (7x), building (6x), edification (4x), wherewith (one) may edify (1x).

 

Written by Lee Johndrow

Lee Johndrow

Lee is on staff as the Prophetic Ministry Leader at the Village Church where he functions as one of the prophetic grace. (You can visit their site at www.villagechurchswanzey.com)

He is the father of five wonderful children. Married for over 22 years to his wife Tina. 7 grandchildren as of September 22, 2014, with another one on the way! Loving life with family, friends, faith, fun and food!


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