Pursuing Encouragement Through Fellowship

As an introvert, spending time alone comes quite easily for me. As a writer, aloneness is often required for productivity. Even though my career and my personality promote solitude, and I really do like the peace and quiet, I cannot escape the need for regular connection. If I go too long with out it, which happens periodically, I become discouraged and even depressed almost without realizing it’s happening.

Everyone needs connection, whether they admit – or realize – it or not; in fact, it’s one of the primary ways God encourages believers. We’ve already talked about how He encourages through Scripture and through His Holy Spirit. Let’s now look at the role fellowship with other believers plays in encouragement.

Fellowship

Encouragement Through Fellowship

Scripture says quite a lot about encouragement, and much of it focuses in on the encouragement received through fellowship. For example, encouragement through fellowship…

  • Promotes watchfulness as Jesus’ return nears. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 & Hebrews 10:25)
  • Defeats selfishness as we seek to build others up. (Romans 15:1-2)
  • Creates unity among believers. (Romans 15:5-6)
  • Provides opportunity to use spiritual gifts. (Romans 12:6-7)
  • Glorifies God. (Romans 12:8-9)

While I believe each of these to be accurate simply because I trust the inerrancy of God’s word, experiencing encouragement in action takes this knowledge to, well, a more encouraging level.

Barnabas’ Example

A man in the early church named Joseph was given the nickname Barnabus.

Barnabas

Barnabas encouraged Paul by helping him gain acceptance into the church even after he persecuted it (Acts 9:27). Barnabas also encouraged Mark by helping him gain a second chance after serious failure (Acts 13:13 & Acts 15:39).

While I love how Barbabas encouraged others by helping them move forward after serious mistakes, I love even more that he was willing to take a back seat to others. When others give of themselves for our benefits, we are encouraged. When they put their reputation on the line, that usually provides motivation for doing our best.

If you look at the list above for how believers receive encouragement through fellowship, it’s not hard to see how Barnabas lived out each of them. And I’m pretty sure, based on the Barnabas’ in my own life and that I’ve watched in the lives of others, that he not only encouraged those he was directly involved with but also anyone who witnessed him in action. Encouragement has a tremendous ripple affect after all.

So even though spending time alone comes quite naturally for me and in fact energizes me in ways that extroverts cannot understand, I also know that being with others is essential for my spiritual health. And while I read Scripture that tells me how and why encouragement comes through others, it’s the actual encouragement in action that solidifies my belief in this truth.

DISCUSSION: How have you witnessed encouragement in action through the lives of other believers?

16 thoughts on “Pursuing Encouragement Through Fellowship

  1. I'm the opposite of you. I am a social creature. But even then I need time when I am alone. I most often need to be with people. I "feed" off others in meetings. I do my most creative thinking in brainstorming sessions where ideas fly.
    My recent post Future

  2. I love spending time alone. Solitude helps settle me and it focuses me on my Creator.

    But lately I've been craving interaction with fellow believers. I"m so excited that I'm blogging again. I really missed it. While I knew I enjoyed it, it wasn't until I was away for so many months that I realized how important it was for me. My fellow Christian bloggers give me encouragement among so many other things. I love the fellowship I get through blogging. Even though I go to church and am involved there, I"m so thankful for my online family of God.

    Great post, Kari. I love what you said about Barnabus. He's often overlooked in the Bible, yet he played such a vital role. He is a great example of a Christian encourager
    My recent post Returning from Maternity Leave

    • It's seasons like what you've just gone through that help find the balance between solitude and fellowship. We all need it, just at different amounts. I have two people I thought of when I wrote that about Barnabus, and they are so indispensable for regular encouragement in my life. I'm very thankful for them.

  3. I feel I am a Barnabus. My role and calling right now is as a prayer warrior and encourager for others. I am grateful that you shared this, because sometimes that role is not one others recognize as important. I truly am blessed when I can be a blessing to others. I find that I need a balance of time with others and quiet. I especially like to start my day with quiet time with God. Then I fill my cup so I can pour out into the lives of others. It is not about me, but about sharing God's love and promises and hope. Great post! thanks.

  4. I'm like you – needing a constant mix of both time to recharge and time spent in fellowship with others. And in that regard, I have focused on a combination of both online and in-person friendships. Online is great to find like-minded believers, but I also need that face-to-face interaction.
    My recent post The Halfway Point Between 30 and 40

    • Finding our unique balance is so key, Chris. Then, once we find it, we need to stay aware of its status. Staying balanced in this area impacts all others quite intimately in my experience.

      • Great points. Staying aware of the status is certainly my challenge. I sometimes drift into focusing too much online and then realize it's been a couple of months since I've eaten lunch with a friend. I'd rather head that off with intentional action before I feel disengaged.

        • Awareness is such a key element in all aspect of our lives… spiritual, mental & physical. For me, it's half the battle. Once I'm aware, I'm then on my way to victory over it.

  5. It is remarkable that without a Barnabas there would not have been a fully-realized Paul. That encouragement is vital to each of us and we can in turn offer it to others. Awesome! Whether we fully appreciate it or not, God set it up this way for a reason. Good stuff, Kari! 🙂 Thank you.

    • Great point, Jason. A Barnabus is often a crucial part to an individual's success. Encouragement is vital, no matter who you are or what you do. And you're right, God set things up this way for a reason. Fully embracing that whether we understand why or not is crucial for us to be all he wants us to be as a body. Thanks!

  6. I think one has to set out to be an encourager. I do not think for the most part that it is something that just happens without effort. I also strongly believe when we encourage someone it turns on us and encourages us knowing we had an impact.
    Sometimes you don't have to do anything but show up. Just being there for someone can be a great source of encouragement. Remembering things that are important to them is also good. Remember their birthdays or significant days like when someone they loved passed away. I don't think we realize how much people appreciate a little effort.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *