“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)
“You got this.” “I know you’ll be great.” “I trust you.” These are all phrases of encouragement, and, like oxygen and water, everyone needs them. The act of encouraging is mentioned multiple times in the Bible, usually with a Greek word literally meaning “to call alongside”. We all need someone whom God has called alongside us to be an advocate and cheerleader for us. We all need someone who shouts out, “you go, girl” or “atta boy” at our games and meets, at our parent-teacher conferences and at our review meetings. We all need someone who will always be “in our corner”.
Even the best of us, the most qualified among us, need an encourager. One of the most gifted people in the Bible was the Apostle Paul, whom God introduced to Barnabas (“the son of encouragement”) soon after his conversion in Christ. It was Barnabas who introduced Paul to the early church leaders, who risked his reputation to allow Paul entry into leadership, who traveled with Paul to provide whatever he lacked and who offered advice and counsel whenever a difficulty developed. Barnabas was happy to live in the shadow of his companion and willing to be used for God to further another person’s ministry.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of participating in an ordination council (a presentation and defense of an individual’s theological and philosophical beliefs before a panel of peers). At one point in the discussion, the candidate mentioned his wife and stated that she would not be the stereotypical ‘pastor’s wife’. What he meant by this comment was that she would not be attending every church event and head up ministries such as the children’s program. However, he was deliberate in stating that she saw her role as being an advocate and encourager for her husband. His comments made me think of my wife, Jeanine.
My bride of 25 years is likewise not the stereotypical perfect pastor’s wife, but she is the perfect wife for this pastor. She cannot play the piano, is more-than-capable but less-than-excited to teach, and inclined to wear pants to church in the winter. But truthfully, those qualifications are not found in the Bible. The qualifications for a godly wife that are found in scriptures are the qualities that embody Jeanine’s character, especially encouragement. She is the first to boost my confidence by standing alongside me and whispering the things that feed my soul and motivate me to attempt great things for God.
Today is Jeanine’s birthday. Tonight we are going to gather together around the table as a family and remember all the gifts and goodwill of the birthday girl. In other words, we are going to spend time giving Jeanine what she is always giving to those close to her: encouragement. In honor of my wife’s birthday, give someone else a gift today: look around you and appreciate those who have been called alongside you who empower you to attempt great things; or look around and empower great things through those to whom you have been called alongside. We all need an encourager; I thank God that I am married to mine.