Lest you or I get too hard on ourselves, let me share a passage that illustrates the importance of being an encourager. King David was struggling to be an encourager. We find the example of in II Sam. 19. In this passage David is mourning the death of his son Absalom. David became totally self-consumed with his grief and forgot that he had a kingdom to lead. His despondency caused him to discourage rather than encourage.
The people of Israel struggled along with David. Sure, he was mourning the loss of his son; however, his people needed an encouraging word. The Bible identifies the emotions that flooded their minds. They were: a defeated people, “the victory that day was turned into mourning” (vs. 2); a demoralized people, “the people stole back into the city...as people who are shamed” (vs. 3); a disillusioned people, Joab said, “you have disgraced all your servants” (vs. 5); a devalued people, Joab said to David, “I perceive that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died today, then it would have pleased you well.” (vs. 6)
Joab saw how badly the people needed a word of encouragement from David. He said, “Now therefore, arise, go out and speak comfort to your servants. For I swear by the Lord, if you do not go out, not one will stay with you this night.” (vs. 7) What strong words to David! Sometimes we need a kick in the pants so that we might remember our responsibility to give people pats on the back.
This passage reminds us that a leader never gets any rest. He is always on call. That is not fair. This sounds like a pastor’s role, doesn’t it?
Leaders must guard against letting our problems pull others down. Sure, we need to grieve our losses and we need to process our hurts; however, David drew back into a cocoon and allowed the people to struggle. There are several things he could have done. We can do these things.
First, we can speak encouraging words. You can speak encouraging words even amid tears. Sometimes we get discouraged and our discouragement flows through our words. Those words could be harsh words. Those words could be lacking in integrity. How so? Transparency goes a long way in encouraging others.
Second, offer hope. In verse 8, we see David doing a noble deed. “Then the king arose and sat in the gate. And they told all the people, saying, ‘There is the king, sitting in the gate.” David’s presence instilled hope in the people. We may not always feel good. We may not always have answers. However, we serve the One who came to give hope. Even in the darkest hour He can give hope.