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Process of Development: Encourage

Encouragement includes both call up and affirm.

By Cara Garrity, Development Coordinator

The fourth E of the 4 Es in our Process of Development is Encourage. Have you ever had an experience when someone tried to encourage you, but it was not encouraging at all? Maybe they provided impersonal words that felt like they weren’t really for you. Or you could tell they were trying to provide encouragement because they felt obligated, not because they meant it. What does it mean to really encourage?

To encourage in GCI ministry is both to call up and affirm. Encouragement provides support, confidence, or hope for another. It can include providing fuel for another to keep going or the challenge needed to start going. Encouragement is more than a generic, half-hearted “good job, kid.” It is not empty platitudes. It is personal, it is specific, it is purposeful. In other words, it is intentional.

When we think about encouragement, I suspect that the practices that affirm come to mind first. These practices include: cheering someone on, giving them positive feedback on their work, sharing prayer, or affirming their strengths and achievements. I would also bet that most of us find this part of encouragement easier.

Another important piece of encouragement is to call up. This is the side of encouragement that can provide fuel to keep going or the challenge needed to grow in a new way. These practices include: providing constructive feedback, challenging someone to take the next step in their ministry development, or drawing out someone’s fuller potential. Note that the intent, posture, and even delivery of this form of encouragement affects the impact. It can determine whether a person feels “called up” or “called out.” I think we can all agree that being “called out” is not an encouraging feeling.

Why is it important to include both call up and affirm in our encouragement? As we partner with one another in our ministry development, speaking words of life and affirming God’s good purposes for one another is an essential way to ground our development in who we are in Christ. Calling up acknowledges that we serve a God who is at work in our midst, who continues to transform us and draw us into participation in his ministry.

Encouragement that only affirms risks stagnation and complacency. Encouragement that only calls up risks self-reliance and striving. Encouragement that holds both calling up and affirmation together holds the potential to provide support, confidence, hope, fuel, spark, challenge, and more as we grow as a priesthood of all believers with one another.

Some questions to consider:

  1. How do you feel about these two pieces of encouragement?
  2. How can you encourage your team this month?
  3. What might you have to change to begin encouraging your ministry team more consistently and specifically?

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