A Little Honey
It was the Spring of 2014. The office was neat and orderly. There were two black leather chairs facing each other next to a well-filled bookcase. Little did I know it, but I was about to embark on a journey that would change my life forever.
Leading up to that day, I’d been pastoring for almost five years. I’d completed an advanced seminary degree. I’d read lots of books and was pretty sure I was just destined to be an unsuccessful pastor. That’s when I met my mentor.
We decided to work on three particular areas. Homework involved reading prescribed books and completing various assignments. We met every other month or two and reviewed each session. My mentor listened and asked thought provoking questions. When asked, he would share his personal views, otherwise he would let me do most of the talking.
I’m pleased to admit that amazing things have happened because of this relationship. Not only did I study the books my mentor gave me to read, I studied him and watched how he led his church. I listened to his sermons. Followed him on Facebook and Twitter. I even read his thesis from Liberty University….twice! You get the idea.
Lets face it, we all need a little guidance, coaching, accountability and help from time to time.
It’s not that we don’t know the answers. Often we do. But what we need is Jesus with skin on. Someone who not only knows the truth but lives the truth. Someone who encourages us like a parent; coaxes us, prods us to stick with it. Someone who shows us the path and tells us we can do it. We all have weaknesses and there is always someone who can do something better than we can. But sometimes we need someone who will tell us EXACTLY what to do given a particular situation.
These people aren’t always naturals. While my mentor possesses above average gifts, he is a reader. That encouraged me. I’d never met anyone who read as much or more than I do. I figured if he can do it, so can I. He learns from others. He creates opportunities to glean from those who excel in his field. I took a leaf out of his book and met with a successful church planter during one of my vacations! The planter also turned out to be an avid reader.
Encouragers rejoice in hope; they are patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer. Do you have anyone like this in your life? If you don’t, maybe it’s time you found someone. Someone who can laugh in the face of difficulties. Someone who endures the hardships and setbacks in life while still moving forward. Someone who prays like everything depends on God, yet works like everything depends on them. A pioneer who is fast on the tracks of another pioneer. Some one who in the words of Bill Hybels is always tinkering and tweaking.
Encouragers make their own luck. And they’ve also discovered the harder the work, the luckier they get. More than that, they realize despite how hard they work, the results are up to God. Encouragers trust; seek; lead others to cooperate.
People with the gift of exhortation see the big picture. They see and encourage people to execute the steps necessary to reach their goal. They press or prod. But they do it in such a way that most of the time the other party never even realizes what is happening. Notice I didn’t say they manipulate. That’s far from what they do in the sense that we think of that word. What they do is lead. And they lead with wisdom and tenderness. They are like loving fathers and mothers. Encouragers earn our devotion and faithfulness.
Encouragers are wise as serpents and harmless as doves. They’ve learned from experience what works and what doesn’t. They’ve learned that a little honey goes a lot further than vinegar. They are realists. They have a tighter grip on reality then some of the rest of us. They don’t just hope, they chart a course. They are not harsh taskmasters who focus on results at the expense of people. They are task oriented, but they also own people skills. Encouragers know how to motivate and inspire others.
So what’s your dream? What steps do you have to take to achieve it? If you’re unsure, talk with someone who’s been down the same road and weathered the storms of life. Chances are they didn’t succeed because they are any luckier or more deserving than you are. Ask to meet with them. See if there’s any chemistry. If there is, ask if they’d be willing to meet once a month or so to talk. Offer to buy them lunch or coffee. Give them a gift certificate or a cash gift. Buy them a book or offer them a perk or reward. Not because you owe them, but because they’re worth it. Because you care about them and their endeavors. Encouragers will help you pursue your dream.
Be selective. It’s not just anyone you’re looking for. You’re looking for someone who has a good track record. You’re looking for someone who cares about you and is willing to press you to take the necessary steps. They’ll also be patient. Encouragers will overlook your shortcomings. Encouragers have been where you are and realize growth is a process, not a prescription. They know the landscape. Encouragers have the battle scars to show.
It’s not that you don’t know the truth. Chances are your mentor will tell you what you’ve already heard a million times. The difference is your mentor will help you to apply what you’ve learned. Once you begin to apply what you’ve learned, you’ll seek life-change in other areas. Once you’ve changed your life, you’ll attract and inspire others.
Remember, a little honey goes a long way. Next week we’ll look at what it looks like when someone has the gift of giving. Until then, have a blessed week and GO THE DISTANCE!
The marks of an exhorter according to Romans 12:12: “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”