At the beginning of this month, I was reading and working through Deuteronomy 31:1-8 on the my new The Message Prayerful Reading Bible and came upon a question that startled me and left me disconcerted. It asked, “Who in your life encourages you when you are feeling intimidated or overwhelmed? What do you notice about the way they encourage you?”. Not many people came to mind aside from my family, especially my wife. As a pastor, we are expected to be the encouragers in people lives but we often don’t get the same. At that moment, as I thought of who were those that encouraged me, I felt a bit, should I say, discouraged. But this shouldn’t be.
All of us face discouragement or become overwhelmed in our lives, pastors and leaders are not excluded. John Bunyan wrote about this in his famous allegory of the Christian life in Pilgrim’s Progress. We need others to encourage us when life gets tough, we are going through changes or difficulties or challenges or when we just face our gloomy days. This is what Moses did to the people of Israel and their new leader Joshua as he got ready to hand the baton and leave this Earth. His words to them resonated with me as well:
“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”
7-8 Then Moses summoned Joshua. He said to him with all Israel watching, “Be strong. Take courage. You will enter the land with this people, this land that God promised their ancestors that he’d give them. You will make them the proud possessors of it. God is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.” – The Message
Yes, God is on our side. He won’t let us down. He won’t leave us. But we need people to say this to us as well.
The “Pray” section of this devotional ended with “Pray for your own leadership, that you will be an encouragement to those in your life who need it.”
As I thought about the lack of encouragement I receive, this was a good way to change that. I want to offer encouragement to those in my life that need it. It may as simple as “good job” or “I see how God is using you…” or “I can see how you are growing in Christ…”.
How about you? How do you answer the question, “Who in your life encourages you when you are feeling intimidated or overwhelmed”?
 The Message Prayerful Reading Bible by Eugene H. Peterson, (NavPress, 2022), p. 330.