Tuesday, March 23, 2010



1 Timothy 4:12-16 Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (13) Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. (14) Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. (15) Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. (16) Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.


Timothy was a young pastor. It would have been easy for older Christians to look down on him because of his youth. He had to earn the respect of his elders by setting an example in his speech, life, love, faith, and purity. Regardless of your age, God can use you. Whether you are young or old, don't think of your age as a handicap. Live so others can see Christ in you.

Apparently Timothy needed some encouragement. Most likely, so do many people around you. Each day we have many opportunities to support and inspire family members, fellow workers, and even total strangers. People need help and affirmation all along the way. Paul modeled six important principles to help us encourage others: (1) Begin with encouragement. People who know we will encourage them will be happy to work with us. (2) Expect of others only what you expect of yourself. People will resist being held to unfair standards. (3) Develop expectations of others with consideration for their skills, maturity, and experience. People will reject or fail to meet expectations that do not fit them. Be patient with distracted or slow learners. (4) Monitor your expectations of others. Changing circumstances sometimes require revised or reduced expectations. (5) Clarify your expectations with others. People are not likely to hit a target that no one has identified. (6) End with encouragement. People love to be thanked for a job well done.


One day a guy vacationing in the Bahamas noticed a big crowd gathered at the end of the pier. As he got closer he observed someone preparing for a solo journey around the world in a tiny homemade boat. Without exception everybody was telling him all the things that could go wrong. Suddenly the guy felt an irresistible urge to offer some encouragement. So as the little boat drifted toward the horizon he began jumping up and down shouting, 'Go for it! You can make it! We're proud of you!'"

This man had what we need more of - the gift of encouragement. We need fewer critics and more cheerleaders: those who see over the heads of the nay-sayers and shout to someone launching out in faith "Go for it! You can make it! We're proud of you!"

Aren't you glad certain visionaries refused to listen to the crowd on the pier? That: (a) Luther refused to back down; (b) Michelangelo kept painting; (c) Lindbergh kept flying; (d) Papa Ten Boom said "Yes" to frightened Jews.

Next time you see somebody responding to the call of Christ, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets" (Luke 5:4), don't join the fear-spreaders and tell them about the great storms, join the faith-spreaders and tell them about the great catches. Shout, "Go for it," then commit yourself to pray for their success. When you do, you're exercising the gift of encouragement. Listen: "We all have different gifts… Whoever has the gift of encouraging others should encourage" (Romans 12:6-8).

After 30 years of marriage his wife was ready to throw in the towel. "I have had it, living with you. You never tell me you love me anymore." The husband replied, "I told you I loved you when we got married - if I change my mind I'll let you know." Too many leaders expect their followers to run on autopilot, like the hard-hearted husband. They don't understand that people thrive on appreciation. They need it. Sometimes Christian organizations are the worst: "You're working for the Lord and He'll reward you." Yes, we're all working for that final pat on the back in the sky, but God expects us to pat others on the back along the way. Paul writes: "Encourage one another and build each other up."

Some people don't need encouragement. They're so strong and so busy that attempts at praising them would be nothing more to them than a pesky insect flying around their face. They'd brush it off with a look of confusion. There are also people who view praise with suspicion because others have taken advantage of them. With them, all you need to do is cultivate kindness. But most of us need encouragement - and lots of it. Phillis Theroux writes, "One of the commodities in life that most people can't get enough of is compliments. The ego is never so intact that one can't find a hole in which to plug a little praise. Compliments by their very nature are highly bio-degradable and tend to dissolve hours or days after we receive them - which is why we can always use another."


"Lord, there are many times that I need encouragement. I am thankful that at the right moment, you always send someone my way to encourage me. Either through a phone call, a text message, an email, a card, or in person. The words are so uplifting and refreshing. Help me to encourage someone today. Please speak to my heart someone who needs a little nudge of appreciation. In Jesus name, amen!"