David was a young man with great potential, but also with a great enemy. So it always is. The enemy: a raving, jealous king named Saul. That madman, poisoned by his own pride, tracked David relentlessly, his hatred driving him to destroy the man who would replace him as king.
In an unexpected, yet wonderful, expression of God’s love for David, Saul’s son, Jonathan, became his best friend. Jonathan gave David support and encouragement, like all true friends do. In fact, Jonathan was a better brother to David than his own blood brothers were. They tried to hold David down, but Jonathan lifted him up- even though David would be king, not him. That’s the way great friends act. They always help us find and fulfill God’s destiny for our lives.
At seventeen, Carrie wasn’t what anyone would call pretty. She wore thick-framed glasses; clothes that looked like they belonged to an auntie, and a hairstyle that said “It’s useless! Why bother?” And she was shy. Really shy. With almost no social confidence, the background was the safe place to live. If she had been an animal, she would have been a mouse.
Carrie had a boyfriend, Marvin. A nice guy, I suppose, but totally clueless about Carrie. Inside that quiet, rather plain exterior was a person of great ability and drive, just waiting for some encouragement. The mouse had the heart of a lion. But Marvin never saw that. In fact, he squelched Carrie’s drive and ambition, keeping her small so he would look important. People tell me he was obsessed with Carrie, but he certainly wasn’t a help to her.
Carrie had another friend, not her boyfriend, but in some ways a better friend. She liked him because he made her feel that she could achieve anything God wanted her to. Apparently it helped, for Carrie eventually became a university teacher. No longer a mouse, Carrie became a confident young woman living out her destiny.
Most of us have many critics, but far fewer encouragers. Parents, playmates, siblings, friends, bosses– so many who discourage, so few who encourage. No wonder so many people fail to fulfill even a small portion of their God-given prospects.
What about that fantastic person you married? Has your husband or wife become a more complete person because of your encouragement? Have you sacrificed some of your own comfort to help your spouse fulfill his or her potential? Love does those things.
Diane and I can say a definite “Yes” to those questions. We are each other’s Number One Encouragers, constantly helping each other grow and expand our influence. We’ve both tried many new avenues of ministry. Some haven’t worked out, but many have. Our goal has been to never let our fears or insecurities rob us of the opportunity to honor God in a new way.
Encouraging growth and making room for it has a price. We may need to make some sacrificial adjustments to make it happen. And it is possible that, like David and Jonathan, our spouse could eclipse us in importance. But if we pay the price we’ll be rewarded with a confident, accomplished mate and a great sense of pride in what he or she has achieved.
One way that Jonathan helped David bears special mention. Jonathan helped David find his strength in God. In I Samuel 23:16, the NIV translation actually states it just that way. There are moments in our development when we face such challenging obstacles that we feel like quitting. As a wonderful old song says, “We have exhausted our store of endurance; our strength is gone ere the day is half done; we’ve reached the end of our hoarded resources . . .”
Hold that thought. Picture David: tired, pursued, misunderstood, living in God’s promises and empowerment, yes, but perhaps feeling like he should just forget the whole thing and go back to shepherding. Then Jonathan comes to him in his darkness and redirects David’s attention to God. What a turning point.
Now let me finish the song for you: “When we’ve reached the end of our hoarded resources . . . our Father’s full giving has only begun!” Yes! That’s what we need to hear from our spouses when we feel like we won’t make it. Job’s wife said, “Curse God and die!” We must say, “Bless God and live!”
Think about some specific ways you can encourage someone to grow. Is there a class to take, a skill to learn, a new life to touch, or a new place to impact? Let’s help each other reach those God-given goals and realize our sanctified ambitions. Above all, let’s always help each other find strength in God.
Like the idea of becoming an encourager? Portrait of an Encourager will give you the direction you need to become one.