Saturday, December 13, 2008

Spiritual Gifts pt11: Exhorter

By Bill Gothard

Who in Scripture best illustrates the motivational gift of exhorting?

* Paul

What guidelines are given for the gift of exhorting in Romans 12:12?

* Rejoice in hope
* Patient…tribulation
* Constant readiness for prayer

What basic principle does the exhorter most need to exercise?

* God’s design

Why is this true?

* It allows the exhorter to understand and explain God’s sovereignty.


* Committed to spiritual growth

The motivation of an exhorter is to see spiritual growth take place in practical living, and he is willing to become personally involved to see it achieved. Paul said, “…I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). Paul further declared that he worked night and day to “…present every man perfect [mature] in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28).

* Able to see root problems

An exhorter can discern the spiritual maturity of another person. Based on this, the exhorter is motivated to search out hindrances in the lives of those who are not growing spiritually and to give further encouragement to those who are. Paul saw the Corinthians as spiritual infants and therefore could not speak unto them “…as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal…” (1 Corinthians 3:1).

* See steps of action

An exhorter has the ability to visualize spiritual achievement for another Christian and then help him work out practical steps of action to achieve it. These steps are designed to remove hindrances and develop through which the Holy Spirit can work. Paul told Timothy to flee youthful lusts, to avoid foolish questions, and to follow righteousness with a pure heart. (See 2 Timothy 2:22-23)

* Raise hope for solutions

An exhorter tends to use examples from the lives of others to help Christians see the potential of daily victory. Paul used the testimony of one church to motivate another church. (See 2 Corinthians 9:2) He used his own life to illustrate God’s grace since he was the chief of all sinners. (See 1 Timothy 1:15)

* Turn problems into benefits

Mature exhorters have learned by experience that God gives special grace during trials. Based on this, Paul gloried in tribulation. His credentials were the persecutions which he experienced and the counseling God gave him during his afflictions. (See 2 Corinthians 1:1-7)

* Desire to be “transparent”

An exhorter knows that true growth will not take place where there is guilt. Paul told Timothy that his chief weapon was a clear conscience. (See 1 Timothy 1:19) An exhorter desires an open life to gain a wider hearing for the Gospel. Paul explained, “…I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

* Gain insight through experience

The exhorter is motivated to learn “cause-and-effect sequence” and through them to discover underlying principles of life. He studies both Scripture and experience to find these. His motivation is to promote spiritual growth and to bring diverse groups of Christians together.

* Urgency to act on clear steps

An exhorter tends to explain truth with logical reasoning in order to motivate people to act upon it. Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians 15 have been studied in law schools for their logic. He reasoned with the Jews, the Greeks, King Agrippa, and others. (See Acts 18:4; 26:28)

* Desire to share face to face

An exhorter needs to see the facial expressions of his listeners in order to determine their response and to ensure a positive result. Paul’s longing to see his fellow believers was constantly reaffirming. (See 1 Thessalonians 2:17; 3:10; 2 Timothy 1:4) He used personal conferences extensively. (See 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)


* Keeping others waiting for them

An exhorter’s willingness to give people whatever time is necessary to help them grow spiritually often cuts into family time and personal responsibilities. He often assumes that his family will understand, until major resentments surface. Paul understood the sacrifices that he was making in his ministry; however, if an exhorter is married, his priority must be his marriage. (See 1 Corinthians 7:32-34)

* Looking to themselves for solutions

As an exhorter gains experience and success in counseling, he tends to categorize problems as he hears them and arrive at conclusions before getting all the facts. By failing to listen completely and sense direction from the Holy Spirit, and exhorter can be guilty of the folly of giving the wrong direction. (See Proverbs 18:13)

* Being proud of visible results

When an exhorter gives steps of action, he assumes that they will be carried out. He bases this expectation on the fact that he has “come alongside” and is working with the person to achieve agreed upon goals. As spiritual growth becomes visible, it is easy for an exhorter to take personal credit for it. He may also be tempted to settle for outward conformity rather than true inward change.

* Starting projects prematurely

Exhorters tend to jump into new projects without finishing existing ones. They use projects to motivate others, and then when others are involved, the exhorters find a better project. After several projects, those who are working on them may become frustrated. The exhorter, however, sees the projects as simply a means to accomplishing a bigger perspective.

* Treating people as projects

The exhorter is constantly on the lookout for steps of action which will bring lasting results. As he works with his family or friends, they may get the impression that they are simply another counseling project rather than real people who need personal attention.

* Sharing private illustrations

The problem of treating family and friends as “projects” rather than people is made even worse as the exhorter shares private illustrations which came out of his counseling experiences. Exhorters depend heavily on illustrations to communicate their message. However, when these are used without permission, listeners become uneasy and those who were counseled become resentful.

* Presenting truth out of balance

Exhorters tend to avoid heavy doctrinal teaching which does not have immediate practical application. The result of this emphasis can be an imbalance of teaching which will eventually show up as doctrinal error. Thus, the exhorter needs the balancing ministry of the teacher.

* Setting unrealistic goals

Exhorters often visualize long-range projects and goals for people. These are usually presented without reference to the amount of time that will be required to achieve them. Those whom the exhorter motivates assume that the projects and goals will be achieved much sooner than they can be. This situation raises expectations and breeds disillusionment.

* Giving up on uncooperative people

Exhorters tend to lose hope with people who do not quickly and consistently respond to the steps of action which are given for spiritual growth. By surrounding himself with only those who do respond quickly, he loses valuable personal character training and insights which God must then teach in other ways.


1 comment:

Carolyn said...

Bill Gothard's description of how
a spiritual gift operates has NO basis
in Scripture and therefore is "adding to it!"