The Power of Encouragement
By Carin LeRoy –
Encouragement is important in everyone’s life. While living as missionaries overseas, my husband and I went through some discouraging trials in our earliest years on the field. During those difficulties, the director of Pioneers, Ted Fletcher, wrote us letters of encouragement. His words gave us the boost we needed. He even came to where we lived for a visit. Without his inspiration and support, I wonder if we would have made it through the obstacles we faced.
One of my favorite Bible characters (among many!) is Barnabas. His name means “son of consolation,” or “comfort.” In Acts 13-15, we read the story of Paul and Barnabas and their missionary travels to spread the gospel. On the first part of their journey they took John Mark along as a helper. But during the trip, he deserted them. Later when planning other places to visit, Barnabas wanted to give John Mark a second chance and take him along. Paul disagreed. Their sharp argument separated them, and they departed for different areas of ministry. Barnabas took John Mark, and Paul left with Silas.
Both were great men of God, but Barnabas was a mentor. He saw something in John Mark that he deemed valuable and worthy of his time and effort. After spending time working with John Mark in ministry, he soon became an important asset, even to Paul. Later he said, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is a great help to me in ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11 NET). I wonder if Paul would have said that had it not been for the encouragement and mentoring that Barnabas invested in John Mark’s life.
It is interesting to know that in Acts 9, the disciples rejected Paul because they feared he wasn’t a believer and might persecute them. Barnabas became his advocate and supported him. He not only mentored John Mark, but also Paul! Both became great missionaries in spreading the gospel.
We underestimate the power of encouragement. Each day we encounter people who need a word of praise, a kind word, or time from us. Who are they? Maybe they are within our own family, in the work place, or a neighbor across the street. Let’s also take heed of God’s reminder to “encourage one another and build up each other” (I Thessalonians 5: 11 NET). Be a Barnabas in someone’s life today.
PRAYER: Father, help me learn to be a person of encouragement. Keep me mindful that people are more important than my goals and schedule. Show me today how You can use me to build up and show kindness to others.
“And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, and be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else” (I Thessalonians 5: 14, 15 NIV).
Today’s devotional is by Carin LeRoy, wife to Dale and mother of three grown children and one almost-grown teenager. She has been a missionary with Pioneers since 1982. Her passions are family, missions, piano, and writing to challenge others to live faithful lives for God.