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by Gary Miller of Harrogate, TN
I can remember the first time I decided to learn to hunt with a bow. I was about 30 years old. Yeah, I know this seems old to some of you but at that time I did more fishing than hunting. I can also remember my friend Tim easing my mind concerning my ability to use one. He was one of the owners of the store I frequented. To me, the complexity of this particular weapon seemed overwhelming. His calm admonition to me was that once he tuned my bow and adjusted the sights, the principle would be the same as my gun. Put the sight on the target, hold steady, and slowly squeeze the trigger. Of course, he was right and the more I practiced the more I became comfortable with the whole process. Since that day, I have hunted with archery equipment more than any other way. And it all started with one thing: encouragement. It is perhaps the most powerful tool in existence. It has been the single greatest catalyst for more inventions, discoveries, and accomplishments, than any other motivation. Much of the time it is the difference between success and failure and always between fatigue and perseverance. Encouragement is the offense on any team. It does not allow one to stand still but is ever motioning to gain ground. Not too long ago, my granddaughter came in from soccer practice. The only thing she mentioned was how the coach bragged on her. What do you think that caused her to do? Gain ground. Encouragement is the gift that keeps on giving. Are you an encourager? There is absolutely nothing you will ever do that will move your interests forward more than encouraging those who work with you or for you. And while encouragement may even take monetary sacrifice, it will always return in multiplied and varied profits. Is it any wonder the number one reason God wanted his people to come together each week was to be encouraged and to encourage others?
It shames me how we have twisted this original idea into a knock-off from the Old Testament law. We have placed everything else above this main purpose. Instead of worship, praise, giving, and preaching becoming the means for encouragement when we gather, we have made each of these an end in themselves. And many times we even do it at the expense of encouragement. There is one thing for sure, when encouragement becomes absent so will the people who need it. Everything else they will be able to do at home. If you want your faith family to gain ground, encouragement will do the trick. You can do it!