S and C are leading a team in East Asia. This is not their picture but what came up on Google imagine search when I typed in their names. S and C were the directors at Yale University before going on STINT and their team is made of mostly Yalies. So their team is carrying on the tradition of Young Missionaries being sent out from the Ivy League: Adoniram Judson, The Haystack Revival of 1806, The Princeton Pledge, The Student Volunteer Movement, Borden of Yale, etc.
I first met S and C about 7 years ago. For several years I helped with a national project briefing for most of the projects going to East Asia. I think the Y's led a team for three summers in a row. I was always impressed by the humility and gentleness that was evident in S and C as leaders. It says a lot that once they said they were going on STINT a team instantly formed around them.
This doesn’t encompass all of the gifting of the Y’s by any means but one thing that is true of leaders others want to follow is an encouraging spirit. Encouragement is something we all need because we all face discouragement or lack of courage. How easy it is to follow leaders who we know love us, believe in us and speak words of life into us. We will go to the ends of earth with leaders like that.
The writer of Hebrews speaks a lot about encouragement. My personal speculation is that Hebrews is one of Paul’s sermons though maybe not the one where the guy fell asleep and fell out the window. Or perhaps it was written by Barnabas: the son of Encouragement. It would be like him not to put his name on it. Of course if it really mattered we would know. So I will move on.
In Hebrews 3:13, the writer exhorts us to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” Later among the salad passages of chapter 10 (‘let us…’) he writes, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Encouragement is to be a daily way of life for us as believers and especially as leaders. It is to be a natural part of our lives until His glorious appearing and even more so the closer we get to that Day. A day shouldn't go by where do not look to encourage someone else.
Encouragement gives life and picks people up. It says ‘come on, you can do it.’ It gives courage to the discouraged and heartens the faint of heart. It uplifts the crestfallen and gladdens the gloomy. It inspires the dispirited and motivates the morose. It emboldens those who are dismayed. It looks past the imperfections and sees the potential. It spurs people on to love and good deeds. I don’t think we would even think of giving up meeting together if every time we met we knew we would come away encouraged in our souls to keep fighting the flight.
Ironically as I was thinking and studying about this, I came across a post by Lil M another STINT leader in East Asia. M was writing about appreciation and criticism. He said this, “I thrive off of appreciation, and affirmation. I think we should encourage more often, I know it helps me. And yet, I also see that this can be crippling... We need to learn to love and serve and help others regardless of response. But we also need to learn to show appreciation and give compliments more often. I think it is ok to be critically minded at times, but not a critical spirit. And sure people should do their job, but we all appreciate appreciation. Have you ever been encouraged too much? Likely neither have other people.”
I will end as M ended: “I encourage you to encourage others!” And will add: "Know your sheep - find out what encourages them and do it as long as it’s called Today”.