How to Be a God-Focused Encourager

a little flower by higetiger

Think of the last time you were encouraged, genuinely, deeply encouraged, by someone. Pretty sweet, wasn’t it? We all need encouragement in our lives, and we all need to learn to be encouragers of each other.

If we would learn to be a better encourager by example, there’s none better than one of the first followers of Jesus named Joseph. Wait, you probably don’t even recognize his given name Joseph, but his nickname Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” That’s the kind of guy he was, a man known for his encouragement. His encouragement was so important to the church that he is mentioned by name 33 times in the New Testament, more than anyone else who wasn’t an apostle.

So, how did Barnabas do encouragement? Studying him, it’s clear that he was known as a God-focused encourager. No matter where he went or what he did, his heart remained focused on God, and his encouragement to others flowed from a heart filled from God and with God.

There is one key verse in Acts that gives us some clear yet concise insight as to why Barnabas was such an effective encourager:

When Barnabas came (to Antioch) and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose. (Acts 11:23)

First, we see that Barnabas let God lead him to people. He did not wait for someone to come to him. He traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch with the specific purpose to encourage the Christians there. The Bible records that the church in Jerusalem specifically asked him to go to Antioch. If we are focused on God, He will guide us to people to encourage, either through the guiding of our church or friends or circumstances or through the Spirit. Don’t you think that God has someone for you to encourage today? If you remain focused on Him He will show you who.

After he came to Antioch Barnabas saw what God was doing. One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is, “What is God doing in the life of this person? Where is God at work?” Being a God-focused encourager doesn’t mean throwing out generic “Have a great day, hang in there, trust in God, blah blah blah” cliches. It means taking the time to listen, to observe, and to ask God to show you a person’s true need.

We next see that Barnabas was filled with joy at seeing God’s grace. The old saying goes that there is more “caught” than “taught.” That principle is absolutely essential in encouragement. As we move into another person’s life, our hearts should be filled with God’s joy. Seeing who God is and where He is moving in another person’s life is incredibly energizing and empowering. Sharing our joy in God with both our words and our lives is the most powerful encouragement we can ever give to each other.

Finally, we see that Barnabas encouraged others to be God focused. We all need encouragement in every aspect of our lives. I’m sure Barnabas was known for saying things like, “Say, have you lost a few pounds?” “That’s a great job you did with your house.” “You’ve got a great sense of humor.” “That’s the best stew I’ve had all month!” But most of all, he was known for encouraging people to look to God in all they did. Being a faithful Christian was a terribly hard thing in 1st century Palestine, but Barnabas clearly saw both the challenge of leading a faithful, God-focused life and the absolute necessity of it.

So, will you be like Barnabas today? Will you be God-focused enough to let Him lead you to the people that you can uniquely impact, to see what God is doing in their lives, to move with joy into their lives, and encourage them to fix their eyes on God? I know, it sounds like a tall order, but as you let God guide and empower you He will surely accomplish great things through you for His glory.

5 comments to How to Be a God-Focused Encourager

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  • BETH

    I am looking for books and any other material, about being an Encourager. This is my calling, I known it because people has been placed in my along the way but I did not know until here recently when I was prophized over and it was confirmed. I know God and the Holy Spirit will guide me from glory to glory as I go. The Lord has also Blessed me with other gifts which I would very much like to better understand my role in his Kingdom in which he has called me. So if you could suggest some books to futher my walk that would be great. Thank you and God Bless.

  • Theresa

    I seemed drawn to this topic…encouraging others is very rewarding to me. Thanks for this article.

  • Mini Ware

    Answer to Beth’s request. One of the best book I ever read is Chuck Swindoll’s book entitled “Encourage Me.”

    Please let me know if this helps. Aloha.

    Mini Ware
    Ko Olina, Hawaii

  • Great article. Man, I had a real Aha moment while reading this. The saying; there is more “caught” than “taught.”

    In recovery we use something known as “attraction rather than promotion.” That real change comes from people who want it and seek it. It’s my job to be a carrier of the message by how I live, not what I say so much. I’m judged by my actions rather than my intentions.

    I know from experience that I could sense someone had inner-peace and something I wanted. I sought and they shared with me the impact God had in their lives. But it was me asking for it as a result of desperation. So I remember that… how resistant I am to the promotion of something. It’s important to give that same respect to others. Plus there’s no need to promote something when you’re an encourager from the heart.

    I remember the first time that “But for the Grace of God” was personal. I said it to my mentor just like I would say any cliche or saying, but for the first time it was personal. I remember it vividly, I was standing in my front yard talking to him on the phone and when the words came out, the were from my heart instead of me head. It was personal. There’s a big difference and I felt it.

    Each morning I wake up and hit my knees in my closet before I get dressed for my day. I ask God to “show me what you will have me do today, and give me the strength and the willingness to carry it out.” Inevitably, God will put someone in my path that day which I am to listen to, or help or be of service in some way. It’s then I get to see how serious I was when I asked for guidance and to do His will.

    I love the idea of God-focused encourager. It really is mostly about listening; to be understanding rather than understood (St. Francis Prayer).

    I recall specifically a few years ago I was at a corporate xmas party, getting ready to get up in front of 600 people and speak and sing a song I wrote. A co-worker said, “wow, you don’t seem nervous at all… I’d be a nervous wreck!” My response, without even thinking was, “I get my encouragement and strength from somewhere else. I know I’m taken care of and everything will be fine.” That was all that was said.

    A few months later she came to me and asked about what I said. So I got to share with her the amazing impact God has had in my life. Not in a preachy way, just my experience.

    I too am filled with the joy of seeing and mostly experiencing Gods grace.

    Thanks for a great article.

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