I have shared previously that my wife and I joined a gym back in the summer. We both wanted to gain some flexibility, strength, and endurance. We both want to stay healthy. Our normal routine has begun with the stationary bike followed by a circuit of the weight stations and concluding with the treadmill. Over the months, we have increased distances, weight lifted, and repetitions. We both have felt better.
I have been pleasantly surprised at how regularly we have gone. When we miss for a few days, we both talk about how we “need to go.” One thing that has helped us both is going together. We have served as encouragers for each other. There are few weekdays when our schedules are open that we won’t meet at the gym after work. Sometimes she waits for me. Sometimes I wait for her. But neither one of us is as faithful in going when the other cannot be there.
The same can be true for Sunday School encouraging and supporting members to make spiritual progress. There is benefit in having an accountability partner, mentor, or (a phrase I prefer) “an encourager.” We all benefit from someone encouraging us forward. For instance, consider again scripture memorization. Can you imagine the impact on Sunday School classes, churches, and Christians if they regularly learned passages of God’s Word? What about the impact from more frequent prayer time? What about encouragement to find a place of service and give it to God?
All of us need encouragement to continue to grow. If memorizing God’s Word is one of those places we understand that we “need to go,” then doing it together may make it more enjoyable and keep us moving forward. Personally, I am task-oriented. So if I set myself a realistic goal to memorize a number of passages within a certain time period, I will probably achieve it. But in order to do so, I am likely to have to schedule reminders for this important work. And if I partner with a friend in my Sunday School class and we are both working on the same passages, we can check on each other’s progress, offer suggestions for challenges we face, and encourage each other. This can make it more enjoyable and helpful! It can increase our faithfulness to the task and growth.
Another area where an “encourager” can help is in offering us a sense of perspective on progress we are making. Like in my progress at the gym, often in your spiritual growth it is only in looking back that you realize how far you’ve come. And sometimes others can see your progress better than you can. A “spiritual workout” partner can remind us of steps we have taken, changes that have occurred, and victories celebrated. This can be great motivation in continued progress.
I find that some Christians grow discouraged due to a sense that they are not growing. An encourager can help attenders make progress and realize they have done so. Think about the potential impact of encouragers on your class. Ask them to pray about serving as “encouragers” for each other. Stretch your attenders to give God their best efforts. Expect more. Be revolutionary!