The Power of Encouragement (Discovering your ministry of affirmation) by
Petra van der Zande
By Jeanne Doering
Moody Press, Chicago
ISBN 0 8024 0146 5
During Jeanne's time in Bible College, the negative atmosphere seemed to be everywhere, prompting a few students to create the "Barnabas Committee". As they prayed for the faculty staff and anonymously encouraged them, they weren't prepared for the blessings they received in return they were encouraged themselves.
As she suffered through a difficult mourning period after losing both parents, Jeanne realized the importance of encouragement. She was starved for affirmation and consolation. Although people stepped in, her needs were so deep that she "missed" it, and continued to feel isolated and empty.
This study guide uses many practical examples on how each and every one of us needs to encourage one another. It is not "just" a spiritual gift for certain people.
All aspects of the character of Barnabas as an encourager are explored:
1. He was a Spirit-filled believer
2. He made himself available he saw a need and came alongside with a solution
3. He affirmed others
4. He had a servant's heart and let Paul take his first place
5. He helped also financially
We read about Elijah, who was encouraged by God Himself, through "angelic room service", and other examples of men of God in dire need of encouragement.
When God encourages us in the barren places, as a response, we are to encourage others.
Through Scriptural references Jeanne shows us many creative ways how we can encourage one another: by listening, touch, giving, showing hospitality, practical help and prayer.
Encouragement must be done with the right motive, not to flatter.
It takes courage, for we don't know how the other person will react. It's a long process, which can become a life style.
We can get into the habit of thinking of others and letting them know it.
God can use a willing heart to become a channel of His love.
It doesn't have to be difficult, for the needs of others will fall at our feet, and meeting these needs often require only the skill we use every day.
When we help others, we communicate that they are important enough for us to serve them, that we don't consider ourselves too good for them.
Encouragement and the church is a separate chapter, where Jeanne describes that many believers are deaf and blind to the wounds of fellow believers. They suffer from the "sin of coldness". Emotional and spiritual bleeding people come to the service, sit down and leave the building unhelped.
Encouraging others is a two-way street and spiritual law.
We are to "take courage" through our faith and trust in God's ability to work through us.
Today's society is full of gossip and ridicule, focuses on mistakes and emphasizes weaknesses of leaders. The world around us delights in discouragement. But to a Christian faith + hope + love = encouragement - to be used to those around us.
We don't have to wait and/or expect results, but have to be obedient to God's word, do the job and leave the results in God's hands.
A practical, well worth reading study book on the subject of Encouragement that will challenge the reader to become "friend of the Barnabas Committee". It's not for a few "elect", it's for every believer who wants to live a Christ-like life.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 NKJV
Petra van der Zande, (often writing under her pen-name Christina Boerma) is a free-lance writer, living in Israel. Together with her husband, they are foster parents of 3 special needs children. http://christinaboerma.com