September 15, 2018

Come On You Fellow Exhorters

Come On You Fellow Exhorters

Day 25 — September 15, 2018

By Reggie Ledford

As a disciple of Jesus, investigating and applying your spiritual gifting is a critical and exhilarating part of any person’s spiritual journey. Soon after becoming a member of First Baptist, Shelby, I was able to join in a Masterlife course led by Reverend Billy Cooper, the Minister of Education at that time. MasterLife is a developmental, small-group discipleship process that will help a participant develop a lifelong, obedient relationship with Christ. One phase of the Masterlife curriculum is to take a spiritual gifts inventory to help determine a participant’s more explicit spiritual gift or gifts.

That spiritual inventory process revealed to me that my most marked spiritual gift was the gift of exhortation (sometimes called the gift of encouragement). The gift of exhortation involves motivating, encouraging, and consoling others so they mature in their walk with Jesus. At this time in my life, nearly 40 years after that momentous discovery, I find myself continually developing and utilizing that valuable gift both within the church and outside the community of faith.

For the past six semesters, it has been a blessing in my life to be able to work as an adjunct instructor in Accounting at Cleveland Community College. I am continually amazed that most students that are required to take Accounting to complete their major quickly hyperventilate and break out in a profuse, cold sweat the first time they enter my classroom. These episodes of frantic anticipation are quickly recognizable to me and give me the perfect opportunity to exercise my exhortation gift.

My first spoken line dispensed to each class every semester is, “I want you to be successful in this class, and I will do everything that I possibly can to make that happen!” After a few unbelieving groans and/or doubting snickers, I repeat that line again, “I want you to be successful in this class, and I will do everything that I possibly can to make that happen!” After a few weeks together, or at least half way through the semester for the tougher cases, my students understand that they can depend on me to follow through with that promise. It takes an unusual sensitivity to discouragement and struggle, as well as a liberal amount of patience and optimism cheered on by heartfelt healing words, gracious truths and compassionate counsel to keep that promise. The gift of exhortation supplies that sensitivity, patience, optimism, grace and compassion if I “fan into flame the gift of God.”

So, come on you fellow exhorters; let’s pass on the motivation, the encouragement, and the consolation every time that we sense the need to make someone successful in life, whether inside the church or out in many of life’s classrooms. We can do it! We must do it!

Repeat after me: “I want you to be successful in life, and I will do everything that I possibly can to make that happen!”

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.     2 Timothy 1:6-7