At my son’s school the other day, I spotted some artwork that lined his classroom walls. Each child created a flower and wrote five descriptive words about another classmate on each petal. One girl said my son was “handsome, smart, friendly, trustworthy, special.” When he came home, I affirmed all of those traits within him. I asked him how he felt about how his classmate described him. He said it made him feel good that someone saw him that way.
When I heard my child’s reaction, I had to stop and wonder: if he feels this way about encouragement from a friend, how can I, as his mother, encourage him as well?
Second Timothy 1:6 (NIV) says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” As mothers, we have the privilege of not only exposing our children to the Holy Spirit, but also igniting the spark of the Holy Spirit within their hearts and fan that flame so that it burns brightly in their lives. What greater encouragement can I give my child, than that of the Holy Spirit?
As pastors, you have the privilege of fanning the flame of God in your church member’s lives. Here are three things you can do to fan the flame of God in your church’s lives:
Acknowledge Each Church Member’s Value and Worth
Your church members are special not because of what they do, but because of who they are. Pastors have the distinct privilege of acknowledging each member’s worth and value. Sometimes all it takes is an encouraging word, spending quality time with them or allowing them to share their story with you. This is part of the discipleship process. By acknowledging their unique gifts and talents, you establish trust. Once trust is established, you can speak into their lives and assist them in their spiritual journey.
Breathe On Them
Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” God breathed life into Eve. We must do the same with our church members. Not only are they physically present with you week to week, but you must give them spiritual life, too. Our breath is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells within them when they receive Christ, but it must be fanned. It doesn’t just dwell and sit dormant. If you leave a fire dormant, it goes out. Don’t allow your church member’s flame to be snuffed out by the world.
The Holy Spirit has given unique gifts and talents to each of your members. Study the word of God together. Impart your wisdom and knowledge of the word onto them. Assist them in discovering their spiritual gifts. Confirm those gifts and help them find a place to serve within your church. Even young children can use their gifts to serve others. This teaches them that church is not just about what they get, but also what they can give back.
Get Down and Dirty in Your Church Members’ Spiritual Formation
God could have spoken Adam and Eve into existence as he had done with the sun, moon and stars. Instead he lowered himself to our level and used his hands. He touched every grain of dust and used it to shape man. His love for human beings was so great he chose to literally get into the dirt and dirty himself for the sake of our lives.
We must constantly be looking for ways to participate in God’s work of redemption through the lives of the people God has entrusted to you. That may mean talking with them about the ugly situations that jeopardize their spiritual growth (sin, church conflict, etc.) Dive into God’s word together and let them extrapolate their conclusions about friends and activities that may corrupt their character. Then encourage them to bring beauty and redemption to that situation. They need to be able to demonstrate the light of Christ to those around them. Show them what it means “to shine like stars in this crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15).
You have the power to ignite the flame that lies within your members’ hearts. With honest, authentic living, imparting your wisdom and authority and acknowledging their value, you can fan the flame that once ignited, is impossible to extinguish.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. She has been published over one hundred times in places such as Charisma Magazine, crosswalk.com and Christianity Today’s website Gifted For Leadership. She also teaches writers’ workshops for various places such as the Montrose Christian Writers conference. She is a member of the Christian Author’s Network and Advanced Writers’ and speakers Association. Her newest book, An Invitation to the Table explores the biblical concept of hospitality. For more info, please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com