I shared this occurrence and reflection in a recent church newsletter and wanted to share it here also-
From what Scripture indicates, Barnabas was a great help to Paul. Barnabas literally means "son of encouragement". What an awesome namesake.
I am so grateful for the encouraging words of a Redeemer brother in Christ who made a special effort to share some positive observations about one of my sons a few Sundays ago as I was on my way to the worship service. Particularly, he noted how my son was showing maturity being respectful toward him and kind to his children. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated his willingness to share this short, but very personal and meaningful observation with me.
We all need encouragement during our spiritual journey. As a father, I especially need encouragement because I feel pretty incapable much of the time. I’ve read “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” several times, I have a very gifted wife who exercises great wisdom with our children regularly, still, for my part I wonder if the time and effort I spend discipling our boys is “working”. Do you ever feel this way? It could be about parenting or it could be some other aspect of our walk with God and call to assist in the spiritual maturity of others. We wonder if our efforts are having an eternal effect. No matter what the specifics are regarding our walk with God and interaction with others, we all need encouragement along the way. Mutual encouragement is a precious feature of a loving church community. I really felt this that Sunday morning. We have so many opportunities to build one another up by what we say. I am sure the brother who spoke to me had no idea how profoundly God used his words to encourage me. What a simple thing to do for each other- to offer genuine encouragement- yet most of us do it so little.
Can we be even more encouraging of one another? A little genuine encouragement (it has to be genuine!) goes a very long way. I want everyone to feel as uplifted as I did after my brother in Christ shared with me. I know there are many of you with the “gift” of encouragement, for you it comes more easily, so please use your gift in our midst. But let us make no mistake, we are all called to encourage one another, we see this in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians:
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Life is full of challenges and quite a few failures. When spiritual growth and maturity manifests itself, encouraging someone gives glory to God. When my brother complimented my son’s maturity there was a brief sense of personal pride, but very honestly, it vanished quickly because I know how deficient I am as a person and a father. If my son is exhibiting spiritual maturity, it is because of the grace of God, not because of me. Frankly, the fact that God’s grace is the mover in my son’s maturity is the ultimate encouragement, so a more objective “outside” party giving testimony to the work of the Spirit in his life is supremely encouraging and moves me to praise God.
So there it is- When we encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ for spiritual progress, it moves us to praise God- the One who is responsible for any spiritual growth!