November 18, 2015

30 Days of Encouragement {Day 18): Availability for Ministry

You can find the intro to this series here.

Yesterday I shared the first of three 'A' words with you in the effort to give us a framework for thinking about growing as an encourager.  We can begin to grow our Attitude of Ministry by regularly spending time with Jesus and practicing considering others intentionally.  Today we move on to Availability to Minister.  For, as obvious as it may seem, it is quite difficult to encourage one another if we never have a free minute to do so.

Little folks playing in the sandbox during playgroup!

Two points about Availability to Minister:
Listen to the Holy Spirit when He nudges.  We need to be available to the Spirit as He directs our path.  By opening our ears and hearts to Him, and willingly letting Him interrupt our "previously scheduled program", we make our selves available to minister to others.  Just like intentionally considering others, this takes practice.  The more we listen, the more we obey, the more we hear and the more likely we are to choose ministry in the future. 
For example, I have developed the habit (most of the time) of getting in touch as soon as possible with anyone who comes to mind.  More often than not, that is the nudge of the Spirit telling me that that individual needs encouragement.  Or perhaps you're in the middle of the conversation and "something" tells you you need to take the conversation deeper, doing just that is being available to minister encouragement to the person in front of you.  It can feel awkward at first, but the rewards and growth are well worth persevering. 
Live with a little margin.  I know some of you are laughing at this point, but I will ask nonetheless:  Is your life packed out?  I know, especially for my friends with demanding little people in in their lives, that the answer is always, Yes, life is totally packed out!  Of course it is.  But is it flexible?  Do you have wiggle room to be available to minister or are all your activities and responsibilities so back to back that you can only think about you and yours?  We have to have time to make the time to encourage one another.
Like yours, our family has more than enough going on in our lives, even while being intentional about not over-committing.  But I have tried to build time for extra interactions with others - to get to know them and hopefully be an encouragement to them - into my routine.  In the spring, finally responding to the Spirit's nudging (go figure!), we started a weekly playgroup at our house. In community we encrouage one another in words and by enjoying good company.  Opportunities to encourage come right in my door every Monday morning.  That margin for playgroup, planning our school weeks around it, not only makes me vacuum my floors, it also makes me available to minister in a natural context, with coffee!  I wonder how the Lord will show you where you can make margin for ministry?!

Well, there you have it, Heather's top two thoughts on how to be AVAILABLE to encrouage one another: listen when the Spirit nudges (i.e. be available to the Lord) and live with some margin (i.e. be available for others).  Both of these require being intentional; are you picking up on that as a major theme in growing to be an encourager?  I hope so, 'cause I'm not trying to hide it!

Go forth and be intentionally encouraging today!  I'll hit you with A-word number three tomorrow.

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