Written by MayBell Developments – July 30th, 2021
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:11
This is a command given by Paul to the new Church in Thessalonica; it is not a new command. The command, and practice, of encouragement is seen throughout the Bible (Col. 4:8, Heb. 3:13, Acts 16:40, 1Th. 4:18, et al.) Let’s take a closer look at 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to discover a more comprehensive definition of this command.
Our English translation of the word encourage is very limited in its meaning. To encourage means to give support, confidence, and hope.
Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was originally written in Greek and then translated into English. When the Bible is transcribed to English there are several meanings of the Greek root word that they may choose from. The Greek word that translates to “encourage” is “parakaleō” (par-ak-al-eh’-o). Parakaleō is a verb that generally means to call to one’s side and more specifically means to call to one’s side in order to:
We are further told WHO we are to call to our sides, one another. “One another” is translated from the word “allēlōn” (al-lay’-lone), a reciprocal, plural pronoun translating to one another, reciprocally, or mutually. Encouragement is a two-way street. We are not meant only to admonish (reprimand), entreat (ask), comfort, strengthen, and teach but also to be reprimanded, be asked of, be comforted, be built up, and be taught by others. Reciprocally. We encourage but we are also encouraged.
This is the foundation on which we have built our programming. To encourage and to be encouraged. Our Encouragement Program provides a safe environment for people from all walks of life to practice reprimanding, asking earnestly, comforting, strengthening, and teaching one another.
It looks a little like this.
Our Leaders are in a particularly vulnerable place whether that be relationally, emotionally, physically, or financially. They are regaining control over their lives and we help them to do this by establishing them in a leadership position within our programming. In this role, they will choose 2-3 Allies to call to their side.
An Ally’s role is to also call the Leader to their side in a mutually beneficial relationship. Leaders and Allies will come from different backgrounds and different experiences. Our differences allow us to mutually teach and instruct one another, humbling ourselves so as not to exalt ourselves over others.
The Encouragement Program environment is structured around discussion through educational courses. Facilitators run weekly classes on topics such as finances, job skills, tenancy, and cooking. Each of our courses is a highly interactive, discussion-based session that focuses on building relationships with one another instead of the traditional transition of knowledge. Leaders and Allies attend these courses together and mutually work to build a strong, healthy relationship.
Relational restoration may seem like a fancy term, simply put it means restoring (or making whole) relationships. People who have been through or are living in a vulnerable situation commonly experience broken, traumatic, or negative relationships.
It is likely that wherever you are in life right now you are there because of your relationships with others. Our relationships may act positively as a safety net in difficult times or negatively as a lack of safety net or even as a weight dragging you further down.
As we’ve discussed before, we are created for relationship. Relationship extends beyond our relationships with those around us to include our spiritual relationship with our Creator God and our relationship with our own selves. We know that God is making all things new (Revelation 21:5) and this includes our relationships. The Encouragement Program allows us to walk alongside one another, creating healthy, new relationships and also restoring past relationships that may be broken. Through our relationships with others, we are encouraged to connect with our Creator God. As we grow in a deeper, spiritual relationship with God, we are able to see ourselves and others through His eyes and gain a positive self-image and compassion unlike any other.
Compassion is key in encouraging others. It is important to understand that we are not perfect people and that there was only ever one perfect person in this world, Jesus. When we step into a role such as the Ally role we need to humble ourselves as we lift up our Leader. Being an Ally is a tender and compassionate role that challenges us to step out of our comfort zone and out of the limelight. Taking part in the Encouragement Program, in any role, influences us to become more like Jesus.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
–Philippians 2: 4-7
We must strive to become servants and willingly be both teacher and student; supporter and supported; comforter and comforted.
You may have had an interest in our Encouragement Program and been overwhelmed at where to start. My advice to you is to start where you are. Ask yourself if you are a Leader or an Ally. Evaluate your relationships with God, others, and yourself. Are you on a path of spiritual growth or are you struggling to see God’s power in your life? Do you view your actions as an extension of God’s grace or do you feel as though you need to exert your own will over others?
If you think you may be a good fit for an Ally or Leader position please email us at email@example.com. We would love to have a conversation with you and pray over your fit within our programming.
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