Three Ways to be Sure Your Encouragement is Effective
As a young believer, I recall very little Titus 2 discipleship taking place in my own life. I can remember sitting on a couch with another young mom and she asked, “where are the older women in our church? We need them.” It was not until I was in my thirties that I discovered what it was like to be the recipient of a Titus 2 relationship. How grateful I was for those women who poured their lives into my needy heart with biblical encouragement! Because of those women, I now have a great passion for discipling and counseling women as well.
What Will You Share With Other Women?
I remember it was like it was yesterday: an older woman was teaching a group of future pastors’ wives and she said this: “Ladies, we will not be able to share with others what we ourselves do not possess.” She was being kind by saying “we.” What I heard was, “Kim, you will have nothing to offer younger women when you are older if you don’t start NOW!” I had just been both convicted (encouraged) and challenged by a woman who took seriously the role of women discipling women. I am so grateful for that one sentence spoken years ago. God is so good!
God, in His grace, grew me. And, I am definitely older now! Thankfully, He is growing me still. I have had the great privilege of investing in women of all ages through various forms of discipleship and counseling.
Being a sound encourager plays a vital part in discipleship.
Disciple See, Disciple Do
In 1 Thessalonians Chapters 3 and 4, Paul is an excellent example of a man who encouraged well. We know according to 1 Thessalonians 3:10 that Paul wanted to be with those in Thessalonica in order to aid them in completing what was lacking in their faith. He continued in 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 10 by telling them what they are doing well, but to “excel still more.”
Likewise, as we encourage other women on their path of sanctification, we want to be like Paul. He wasn’t afraid to speak about the insufficiencies in their faith, yet he spoke the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15)
There is an attitude that must be instilled within our own hearts when we seek to nurture relationships with women who may come to us with their hearts on a platter. She may be hurting as a result of her own sin, or she may be feeling the effects of someone else’s sin. She may not have a clue what it is like to be rebuked by a sister in Christ. Maybe she came to Christ late in life. Or she may think she has it all together and is merely checking the discipling thing off her to-do list. Regardless the situation that is presented to you by God’s kind providence, there are some heart preparations you can and should do that will benefit you both.
When I am presented with a new opportunity for discipleship, there are three passages of Scripture I prayerfully consider before I offer any counsel.
Such Were Some of You
1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
This verse reminds me of two things when I prepare my heart to meet with a young woman: First, that I was rescued from a sinful idolatrous heart that deserved the wrath of God but instead was justified by Christ. And second, I am mindful from this passage there are varied issues of life that may need to be addressed as I meet with my sister. This passage should instill in me a heart of gratitude and compassion as I see the power of the Triune God at work in my life and the life of my sister in Christ.
The Kindness of God
Be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.
As I prepare to fulfill the good works God has ordained for me, this passage reminds me how to be considerate of the one God has put in my path. Again, I am reminded of the nature of my heart prior to being liberated by Christ through God’s kindness towards me. It reminds me that it is Christ who does the work of growth in me as well as the woman I am investing in.
I am not making “Mini Kims.” Oh, heaven please forbid! I am, however, called to make disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:19) by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. Having confidence in this will better prepare me for the good deeds involved in discipleship. I will, in turn, be able to kindly encourage the same deeds in my sister in Christ.
Handle With Care
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Whether I am discipling, encouraging, or counseling, I must remember restoration is best encouraged when I display a genuine heart of humility towards a young woman who will be confessing her sin with me. She may have to be lovingly confronted of a trespass or shortcoming as we saw in 1 Thessalonians above. This requires gentleness as well as a self-reminder of my own propensity to temptation.
Scripture refers to this self-reminder as removing logs from our own eyes, before we help with the speck in the eye of the one we want to encourage (Matthew 7:1-5). Who in their right mind would trust an eye surgeon whose surgical instrument of choice was a jackhammer? No. Thank. You! Rather, tools requiring great and gentle precision would be the method we all prefer. So it is when we are encouraging our sisters in Christ to walk blamelessly before the Lord.
Remember our Savior
I am not saying there won’t be times a warning or rebuke are necessary, appropriate, and helpful. But, as you invest in genuine relationships with other women for the sake of the Gospel and the glory of God, please remember our Savior was filled with both grace and truth. He was all grace and all truth. I love this kind of calculation, don’t you? This kind of calculation only and always points to our all-sufficient Lord. When we exemplify both grace and truth as we encourage other women in their walk, we will look the most like Christ. Thus, God’s glory will be most accurately on display. (John 1:14).
Ready. Set. Disciple!