Above the desk in my office, I have a ribbon-covered bulletin board where I slide in notes and cards I receive. Included on the board are thank-you cards from churches where I’ve spoken, notes from friends in ministry, and letters from women with whom I serve.
I put them there because each one encourages me. Not in a “you can do it” or “you’re the best” kind of way, but by reminding me of the grace of God at work in me and in His Bride. They remind me of spiritual truth. They point me toward the One who rules all things. They comfort me with the truths of the gospel. And they spur me onward in the race of faith.
As those who serve in women’s ministry, we need encouragement, and we need to encourage one another. But what exactly is the encouragement the Bible speaks about? And what might it look like to encourage those on our women’s ministry teams?
When the Bible talks about encouragement, it doesn’t refer to the kind of encouragement we might see in the world around us. It’s not about telling someone else that they can do anything they put their mind to, or “You’ve got this!” It’s not about saying nice things to boost another’s self-esteem. It’s also not simply saying what someone else wants to hear—as though flattery would help someone meet a goal or get through a hard day.
The Greek word that is used for “encourage” in the New Testament is parakaleo. This word means "to call near, to invite, or to invoke." It’s used to call someone to a person’s aid, usually in the context of exhortation, encouragement, and comfort. We see this word in passages like:
Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13).
God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus (2 Cor. 7:6).
[God] who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Cor. 1:4).
Biblical encouragement speaks spiritual truth to the heart and soul of another. It urges a fellow pilgrim forward in the faith. It comforts others with the truth of who Jesus is and what He came to do. Unlike the encouragement we see in the world, biblical encouragement is not focused on what a person is capable of within themselves, but rather in what the Spirit is doing in and through them. It’s less about telling a friend, “You can do this,” and instead telling them, “Jesus has this.” This encouragement reminds the weak and weary that their source of strength and hope lies not in what they can do but in what God has done for them in Christ.
Encourage One Another
If you are a women’s ministry leader, how can you encourage those who serve and labor alongside you in ministry?
1. Encourage with your words.
Words of encouragement go far in building others up. Handwritten notes, emails, and text messages are all useful vehicles for using words to encourage others. As you write, share how God has used that person in your life. Tell that person what they mean to you. Point out how you see God working in her life. Remind the weary of her rest found in Christ. Encourage the discouraged with the truth of Christ’s work on her behalf. Comfort the sorrowful with the hope she has in Christ. As it says in Proverbs, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (25:11).
2. Encourage by utilizing gifts.
Another way we can encourage those who serve in women’s ministry is by seeking to utilize one another’s gifts. How encouraging it is when someone notices a God-given gift in us and urges us to use it for the kingdom! Honor one another and rejoice together when God works through your sisters in Christ to spread His fame. Seek out ways to use one another’s gifts, because when we all do, it “makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:16).
3. Encourage through prayer.
It’s so encouraging when someone prays for us, isn’t it? When you hear a sister is struggling or hurting in some way, stop and pray with her. I love how the apostle Paul told people how he was praying for them (for example, Phil. 1:9–11). Tell your sisters specifically how you’ve prayed for them. Even more, pray specific Scriptures for them and share with them what verses you’ve prayed.
4. Encourage through your stories.
Another way we can encourage one another is by sharing how God has worked in our lives. Share the stories of God’s faithfulness. Share answers to prayer. Share the lessons God is teaching you. Share how God has comforted you. God doesn’t expect us to keep the encouragement He’s given us but to share it with one another (see 2 Cor. 1:4).
Let’s encourage one another as we serve the women in our churches. Let’s build one another up. Let’s exhort and urge one another forward. May our encouragement go beyond pithy statements and straight to the heart and soul, reminding each other of our great God who works in and through us for the glory of His name.