Something I have become passionate about in the past few years is the ministry of encouragement. It is so very, very necessary and tragically, there is often such a short supply of it to be found!
I'm working on some posts about things I have been learning about encouragement, but I wanted to start by sharing this story again. Phil & I first read this story from author and speaker Larry Crab a couple of years ago and it touched us deeply. We are forever grateful to the special people in our lives who spoke 'life words' to us during those dark days! I posted the story in my blog then, and I'm re-posting it today because I think it illustrates beautifully what an amazing gift we give others when we encourage them.
"As a youngster, I developed a thoroughly annoying and humiliating problem of stuttering. . . Our church celebrated the Lord's Supper in Sunday morning worship service. It was customary in our congregation to encourage young men to enter into the privilege of worship by standing and praying aloud.
That particular Sunday . . . I responded by unsteadily leaving my chair, for the first time, with the intention of praying. Filled less with worship than with nervousness, I found my theology becoming confused to the point of heresy. I remember thanking the Father for hanging on the cross and praising Christ for triumphantly bringing the Spirit from the grave. Stuttering throughout, I finally thought of the word Amen (perhaps the first evidence of the Spirit's leading), said it, and sat down. I recall staring at the floor, too embarrassed to look around, and solemnly vowing never again to pray or speak aloud in front of a group.
When the service was over, I darted toward the door, not wishing to encounter an elder who might feel obliged to correct my twisted theology. But I was not quick enough. An older Christian man named Jim Dunbar intercepted me, put his arm on my shoulder, and cleared his throat to speak. I remember thinking to myself, "Here it comes. Oh well, just endure it and then get to the car." I then listened to this godly gentleman speak words that I can repeat verbatim today, more than twenty years later. "Larry," he said, "there's one thing I want you to know. Whatever you want to do for the Lord, I'm behind you one thousand percent." Then he walked away.
Even as I write these words, my eyes fill with tears. . . Those words were life words. They had power. They reached deep into my being. My resolve never again to speak publicly weakened instantly. Since the day those words were spoken, God has led me into a ministry in which I regularly address and pray before crowds of all sizes. I do it without stuttering. I love it."
From the book 'Encouragement - the Key to Caring' by Lawrence Crabb & Dan Allender