By Tucker Ficklin
It took me a long time, and I was embarrassed. My legs were shaking and my hands were slipping off of the rocks on a low-level wall in an indoor rock-climbing gym. I was 11 years old, and my confidence plummeted faster than I was climbing up the plastic nubs.
My youth group friends were below me yelling, “You can do it!” and “You got this!” But I knew I couldn’t. I always thought I was born without an ounce of physical coordination, and this was proof. Everyone was shouting that they believed in me, but I didn’t believe them. What else were they going to say? I kicked off of the wall with rage and feeling defeated sent myself gliding down toward the ground. I threw off my harness and pouted like a child until our youth leader pulled me aside and gave me the words that would eventually help me overcome much more than climbing a rock wall. He said, “You can do it because God rewards perseverance.” In that moment, I knew what I had to do. I strapped my harness back on and took on that rock wall with the faith that God was going to help me get to the top. It might have taken me 20 minutes longer than the rest of my friends, but I did it.
Encouragement is a vital ingredient to building community and spurring each other on. Hebrews 3:13 tells us, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
Life is hard. Our biggest obstacle might have been a rock wall or a science test when we were younger, but obstacles become bigger and affect more people as we get older. Decisions carry more weight, and the uphill battles are steeper and more dangerous. Insecurity is real, and the enemy wants to see us worn down and hardened, just like Hebrews 3 describes.
Walking through life alone is scary and daunting. But we were never meant to go through life alone. Later on in Hebrews, the writer continues to stress how much we need each other saying, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
We are commanded in Scripture to love each other, remind each other who we are and who we serve, and to choose to see the best in each other. That day at the rock-climbing gym, my youth leader chose to look past my physical and mental weakness. He saw me how God sees me — a person capable of doing so much more than I ever thought possible because He lives in me.
Many times, we cannot find the strength we possess with Jesus on our side until someone points it out to us. It is our job to make sure other Christians know their worth and everything they are capable of. That extra push from a friend is often how God shows us He can do huge things with a willing heart.
Many times, we cannot find the strength we possess with Jesus on our side until someone points it out to us.
True community happens when we all work together for the good of others. Romans 12:4-5 describes the way we all fit together in the church like this:
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
We belong to one another. When someone belongs to you, you help them know that they are a well-loved and important part of God’s kingdom. Encouraging each other is how we bridge the gap between being an onlooker in someone’s life and actually caring for them the way God commands us to? Encouragement is the blood that makes the body function.
Encouraging someone takes a genuine love and the grace to see more in them than they can even see themselves. It’s so much more than a pat on the back or an “atta boy.” If you’ve ever been encouraged by someone, you know how a life-giving word from a genuine friend can give you the strength to push through life’s toughest battles.