FIRST-PERSON: Don't let your pastor's hands drop

by Hance Dilbeck, posted Friday, October 26, 2018 (22 days ago)

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- Consider the power of an encouraging word.

As told in 2 Chronicles, the Spirit of God came on a prophet named Azariah who had been watching King Asa lead Judah in a season of renewal, calling the people to trust wholly in the Lord.

Azariah's inspired word for Asa is one of the great lines of encouragement in the Old Testament: "But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work" (2 Chronicles 15:7).

Oftentimes we feel like our work has no real impact. We wonder, "Am I even making a difference?" If those doubts linger, they sour into discouragement or even despair.

Azariah's words, "Do not lose courage," translate a Hebrew phrase that reads literally, "Don't let your hands drop." What a powerful picture of discouragement. When our hands drop, we are no longer getting the work done, and we open ourselves to the enemy's knockout punch.

Azariah's simple and powerful word of encouragement made all the difference to King Asa. I like the verbs that follow in the story -- removed, restored and gathered. This encouraging word set Asa into another productive season of work. He removed idols, restored the place of worship and gathered the people of God for worship and covenant renewal.

The power of a thoughtful, prayerful, clear word of encouragement, of course, applies to everyone we know. Our children, our parents, our neighbors and our friends need encouragement. "Encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing," as the apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

But allow me to turn your thoughts to your pastor.

The great threat to your pastor is not moral disqualification, nor is it theological error. Some pastors are forced from the work for these reasons, but not most. Most who let their hands drop from the work do so because -- to use biblical language -- they grow weary and lose heart. An encouraging word can make all the difference.

Tell your pastor how his work helps you. Let him know that there is a reward, a result from his work. Look him in the eye and say, "You be strong and do not lose courage." Do the same for his wife.

Be like the prophet Azariah. When the Spirit of God stirs your heart to encourage the servant of God, do not be silent. Go meet him, look him in the eye and get his full attention, then deliver a word of encouragement: "But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work."

Hance Dilbeck is executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. This column first appeared in the Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
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