Romans 12:8 (NLT)
If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
This week’s spiritual gift is exhortation. The definition of exhortation is to come along side of someone with words of encouragement, comfort, consolation, and counsel to help them be all God wants them to be.
Consider the following:
The gift of exhortation is manifested in people who offer encouragement, wise counsel, unflagging support, and empowerment. Those who exhort stay focused on helping people maximize their own potential and live from their own gifts and skills. Exhorters help people feel good about themselves, build confidence, and not grow discouraged. Often, those with the gift of exhortation make others feel good just by being present. For example, a counselor uses the spiritual gift of exhortation.
Today’s scripture notes that exhortation is the other branch of prophesying or preaching. In the apostolic writings, the one idea of “preaching” is divided into its several branches, “speaking with tongues,” “prophesying” (which appears to have had reference to the more profound portions or relations of the faith), “teaching,” and “exhortation.” Exhortation corresponds to “encouragement,” would be especially needed in the troubled circumstances of the early Church as well as the church today. In addition, exhortation is more principally the pastor's work, as well as to teach, is to exhort all sorts of persons, young and old, rich and poor, joyful and desolate, and bond and free. As a mental health professional and minister, in my professional opinion it is necessary to preach exhortation, edification (i.e., moral and spiritual improvement), and transformation (e.g., growth and dealing with universal human issues). However, two weeks ago we learned about the spiritual gift of discernment and I believe that is equally as important to discern the audience and meet them at their need.
The person exhorting may do so professionally or informally, may provide timely advice and perspective for emerging leaders, and may provide stimulus toward potential. Thus, I encourage you to reflect if you are the “wise counsel” people seek. Do you admonish the unruly or disorderly, do you support the weak, do you comfort the contrite, and do you guide those who are under heaviness through temptations? If so, then you exhort! Always remember you do not need to have a degree or credentials to have the spiritual gift. You do not need to be counselor, preacher, therapist, or motivational speaker to exercise the gift from God!