I was thinking today about the spiritual gift of encouragement, trying to nail down exactly what it looks like. And, of course, my thoughts turned to LIFT. One of our core purposes here at LIFT is to encourage leaders in Christian women’s ministry. So how do we do that? What does it mean to encourage someone?
Webster’s New College Dictionary defines the word encourage as “to inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; to hearten.” (I love that word “hearten.” It fits with our LIFT logo, don’t you think?)
And the word courage is described as “the quality or state of mind or spirit enabling one to face danger or hardship with confidence and resolution.”
In God’s charge to Joshua, as Joshua was entrusted with responsibility for leading the Israelite people after the death of Moses, God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous. Three times in three verses God repeated the directive.
The third time, in Joshua 1:9, God said, “This is my command–be strong and courageous!” (The New Living Translation even includes the exclamation point!) So this was not something God wanted Joshua to take lightly.
Isn’t it interesting that God was giving Joshua this particular command just as he was taking over the leadership of a ministry? God knew Joshua would need strength and courage to accomplish the work that was being assigned to him.
As leaders in ministry we’ve been in Joshua’s shoes before, right? No, we’re probably not leading a group as large as the Israelite nation, but any size ministry can be overwhelming at times. It takes strength and courage (and humility, wisdom, patience, grace, and more) to be an effective leader.
So where does the courage, the encouragement, come from? Fortunately, God did not leave Joshua to figure that part out on his own. God was very clear about Joshua’s source for courage and strength.
Joshua 1:9 “This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Hopefully as leaders we regularly reflect on this amazing truth–that the LORD our God is with us right here, right now, and wherever He might take us in the course of our days. The promise is meant to give us the encouragement we need to accomplish the work before us.
If you’re like me it’s sometimes too easy to let courage and confidence wane in the face of challenges. We look around us at the difficulty rather than recognizing God’s presence and power. That’s when we need to encourage and support, remind and refresh each other, maybe even with God’s own words: ”Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Where do you find your encouragement for ministry? Leave a comment and share with us. We would love to hear about what LIFTs you up.