Everyone needs encouragement in ministry. Even Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, had Barnabas as an encourager in his life. As we lead others in ministry, we need people to encourage us, but we also need to be encouragers to those we lead. As we look at Jesus’ earthly ministry, we can observe numerous encounters in which He encouraged His disciples for the tasks ahead. Jesus was truthful and realistic about ministry, but He also continually encouraged the disciples for their mission.
In Matthew 17:18-20, as the disciples came to Jesus discouraged, He told them that if they had even a very small amount of faith (as small as a mustard seed), they would be able to accomplish monumental feats (like moving a mountain). He said nothing would be impossible for them. It’s noteworthy that Jesus did not focus on the disciples’ failure at this point, but He focused on what they could accomplish in the future.
In John 16:33, He told His disciples that even though they would have trouble in the world, they should take heart, because He had already overcome the world. Jesus painted a realistic picture of the struggles ahead, but He was also encouraging by reiterating that He is the Victor.
In Luke 12:11-12, Jesus told His disciples not to worry about what they should say or how to defend themselves. He said the Holy Spirit would teach them in that very hour what they ought to say. Jesus acknowledged that challenges would come regarding what to say, but He offered encouragement that the Holy Spirit is the Equipper.
In Matthew 28:18-20, as Jesus gave the Great Commission, He encouraged His disciples with the ultimate promise that He would be with them always. As He sent the disciples (and us) out to make disciples of all nations, Jesus offered the greatest encouragement of all – His continual presence with us.
In John 14:1-4, He told His followers not to let their hearts be troubled. He said that He would come again and that they would be able to enjoy the home He would prepare for them in heaven. Ultimately, the greatest encouragement that Jesus offered may be the reality of our eternal home in heaven with Him one day.
So, what are some practical ways in which we can be encouraging to those we lead? Here are three simple ideas.
Leading like Jesus means being an encourager. Jesus consistently offered words of encouragement to His disciples as they faced the challenges of serving Him. Likewise, we should be seeking ways to encourage those we lead by praying for them, helping to equip them, and praising them as they grow. Encouragement goes a long way in helping to spur others on for the sake of the Kingdom.