I often think that the gift of encouragement is under-rated and a little under-used. The apostle Paul saw the value in it: he exhorted the Thessalonian church to ‘encourage one another and build each other up’ (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Encouragement is part of loving one another and spurring each other on to expand in our godly gifts and purposes. An encourager requires a gift of discernment, seeing people beyond that moment and cheering them on with godly wisdom and exhorting them to grow in spiritual things. An encourager has strength of heart capable of stepping out and sometimes being vulnerable in sharing what they see in someone. There are times when this may spill over into the prophetic; an encouraging conversation often sees the Holy Spirit take over and he sometimes reveals the hidden things.

Paul’s language of building one another reveals another aspect of encouragement: it should be a two way street! Encourage one another and build one another. Today you may be longing for encouragement. I encourage you to encourage someone; you will be encouraged and you’ll open the gate to receive a blessing. As you talk to people, why not precede it with a personal request to the Holy Spirit to guide you in your encouraging! Today, tomorrow and during the coming week, I exhort you to exercise that gift of encouragement and be amazed at where it takes you and what it unlocks in yourself as well as in others. Anyone can demolish — it just takes a verbal sledge hammer — but it takes Christ-like skill to be a true encourager.