Welcome Words That Meet the Need of the Moment
A couple weeks ago I received a call from someone at the EFCA National Office—it was “my annual call of encouragement,” where someone at headquarters is assigned the responsibility of reaching out to find out how things are going and to pray with me in a personal way over the phone. This lasted about 20 minutes and after we were done talking and praying with each other, I was a bit more energized and refreshed than prior to receiving the call. But please note this: I didn’t know this person prior to our conversation and from what I recall previously about these annual calls, each year someone else will make this personal contact with me. So if a phone call from a stranger with whom no additional follow—up will take place can provide a sense of personal encouragement, what could be the result if this exchange had taken place between two people who know each other and are intentional about taking time regularly to make personal contact with one another?
Based on this question, I’d like to draw attention to the benefits/blessings that relate to and result from the efforts we make in showing personal concern and interest toward one another. According to extensive research done by Barna (and others), loneliness, isolation, and discouragement among people in churches like ours has increased significantly. Years ago most individuals had several close friends in whom they confided and from whom they received encouragement. But studies indicate that is no longer the case. Across most social groups, people have fewer personal friends, and experience less meaningful personal interactions with others. When asked privately and anonymously, many individuals openly suggest that desire for personal encouragement and overcoming regular feelings of discouragement and loneliness rank high on their list of personal needs.
What causes of this concern/challenge? There are multiple factors involved, but the most prominent ones include;
1) how technology has changed our culture; (Some examples include: working remotely from home; social media has decreased personal interactions; there’s a false idea that advanced technology saves us time, but actually it hasn’t)
2) super busy schedules in a fast—paced society with too little time allowed for personal fellowship with each other;
3) misguided priorities and misdirected goals/objectives; (Ask ourselves & ask God, “What’s most important?”)
4) peer pressure (Oddly enough, we’re surrounded by people who don’t have time for one another and we begin to believe that’s the norm. We do what we see everyone else doing because it’s hard to go against the tide.)
Please read through the inserted Scripture above and consider these relevant applications below.
1. Walking in a manner worthy of our calling involves being diligent to walk in unity with one another as God’s family. That requires investing time to encourage one another through personal interaction.
2. Let’s look for opportunities to speak timely words of personal edification and encouragement to each other.
3. There are times when every one of us falls short of what others need or expect. With the help of God’s Spirit, try to be understanding & forgiving by showing kindness & tender-heartedness toward one another. Don’t let personal bitterness build up. Graciously talk thru your discouragements and disappointments to work toward forgiveness.
As always, with praise for His grace and prayer for His glory, Pastor Greg