Our text today comes from Romans 12:6-8 if you’d like to grab your copy of God’s Word. We’re going to look at three gifts today. The first is a spiritual gift that doesn’t get much exposure from the pulpits of America in this day and age. The gift is exhortation. The word exhortation comes from two Greek words: para meaning to the side and kaleo meaning to call or to call near. When you put it together you get parakaleo which means to call to someone’s side, or entreat. It refers to someone who urges another person to pursue a course of conduct. The person with the gift of exhortation has the supernatural ability to effectively encourage or comfort another person. It is the ability to come along side someone and encourage them to walk a path of obedience.
Let’s look at some other words in Scripture that will help us better understand what this word means. In John 14:16, Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” Helper is the Greek word parakletos. Sound familiar? It comes from the same root word as exhort. What Jesus is saying is an extraordinarily important concept in Christianity. Here’s the background:
- Jesus is with the disciples and they had just eaten the last supper.
- He’s talking about going to prepare a place for them and they’re wondering where He’s going.
- Jesus tells them they know the way and Philip responds by saying, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way? Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'”
- Phillip asks Jesus to show them the Father.
- Jesus says, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
- The disciples are concerned about living without the guidance and direction of Christ.
- That’s when Jesus tells them, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” Helper, remember, is the word parakletos.
The Father will give another helper. In this context, another means in the same kind as Jesus. This other helper would be with the disciples forever indwelling them. This helper gives the ability for believers to obey the will of God. But we know that there is a spiritual gift of exhortation given at salvation, so let’s see if we can find out some more about it.
In 1 John 2:1 Jesus is called the Advocate which comes from the same word as exhort. When believers sin, Jesus acts as an advocate with God. Advocate is someone summoned, called to one’s side, especially called to one’s aid.
In Acts 9, it was Barnabas that took a newly saved Paul under his wing. Barnabas’ given name was Joseph, but the apostles renamed him Barnabas which means son of encouragement. Barnabas came along side John Mark when Paul dumped him in favor of Silas. Barnabas was so effective in encouraging and mentoring John Mark that Paul asked Timothy to bring Mark to him in 2 Timothy 4:11.
In Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas were in the synagogue hanging out. After the synagogue officials read from the Law and the prophets, they asked Paul and Barnabas, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.” I encourage you to read the account for yourself, but here’s the short version. Paul’s words of exhortation covered Moses and the exodus, the teachings about the death and resurrection of the Messiah, and a word of warning about what they had just heard. The word of encouragement was so powerful, that the people begged them to come back the following Sabbath and speak dome more. The next Sabbath, nearly the whole town came to hear from Paul.
The writer of Hebrews concludes by saying, “But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.” Urge comes from the same root word as exhort. In other words, he’s saying I exhort you to listen to this word of exhortation which is actually a warning.
Paul’s wrote warnings as part of his letters to the Thessalonians. They were exhorted to work in a quiet fashion and eat their own bread. Some folks had quit working and had become busybodies and were being a burden on others because they didn’t want to work. Paul had a warning for those folks and said, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” (2 Thes. 3:10)
Peter exhorted the people at Pentecost to be saved and exhorted the elders to shepherd the flock.
Timothy was told by Paul to exhort with patience and instruction.
Titus was told to hold fast the faithful word so he could exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict.
The gift of exhortation is the supernatural ability that enables some believers to motivate others to live lives that are in keeping with the commands of Scripture. They give encouragement and warning to the body and call others to believe in Christ. This gift is often paired with the gift of prophesy or teaching, but also appears by itself. Like the teacher, the exhorter must be a student of the Word to provide encouragement and motivation that line up with Scripture.
The second gift for today is the gift of leadership. Romans 12:8 tells us that whoever has the gift of leadership should lead with diligence. Lead comes from the word that means to stand in front or before, to preside or maintain.
Jesus was the perfect example of leadership. He set the standard of leadership by washing the disciple’s feet, a job normally performed by a servant. He encouraged them to follow his example and wash one another’s feet. He led with humility and He led by example. Peter was one of the ones who got his feet washed by Christ. Remember he protested this unseemly act until he understood its significance. He then asked Jesus to wash his hands and his head.
- Peter was a leader who exhorted the elders to shepherd the flock of God, to exercise oversight, not lording it over them, but to be an example to the flock.
- Paul followed Jesus’ example and led believers to be imitators of Christ. He wrote to the elders about how to lead and he exemplified good leadership.
- From our teaching on the pastor – teacher, I hope you remember that one of the words for pastor is overseer. It means one who is an over seer, a leader. In 1 Timothy 3, elders were required to manage their households well. Manage is the same word as rule in Romans 12:8. A leader in the church is someone that must manage his own household well. Some other characteristics of a leader include being above reproach, respectable, gentle, of a good reputation, and they are to hold fast the faithful word.
There are also some warnings regarding leadership. Paul and Peter warned against following false teachers and prophets. These are people who would lead others away from the holiness of following Christ and His Word. Paul warned Timothy that he shouldn’t receive an accusation against an elder unless there were two or more witnesses. Paul gave another warning to Timothy, “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily.” He’s not talking about physically laying hands on someone, but that doesn’t mean you can. Paul is saying that people need time to develop their gift before being in put in charge. Observing other leaders is a good way to learn what to do . . .and what not do.
Leadership is serious business. Hebrews tells us that leaders watch over your souls and will give an account to the Lord. The church is to, “. . . appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” (1 Thess. 5:12-13) Charge is the same word rule used in Romans 12:8.
Elders, overseers, and pastors should have this gift and should be using it for the common good of the body. Is it possible for a pastor to be a pastor and not have this gift? Absolutely, but in order for the church to function effectively, there must be other people surrounding the pastor that have this gift.
Finally we’ll look at the spiritual gift of administrations. This gift shows up only in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and is a similar to the gift of leadership. Administration comes from the word kubernesis meaning to guide, steer, or direct. In Acts 27:11, the word is translated as pilot and in context was the one that is actually steering or guiding where a ship was going.
So what’s the difference between leadership and administrations? There are some people that believe that the gift of leadership and the gift of administrations are the same. They are very similar, but there is a difference. The person with the gift of leadership sets the over arching goals, sets the direction, and exercises care and control over those under his charge. The person with the gift of administration is the one who devises the specific plans to achieve the goal.
Leadership and administrations come from two different Greek words and are used in two distinct ways in Scripture so I would conclude that they are two separate gifts. Think about it this way. The person steering the ship still takes his orders from the captain. The captain knows where they are going and provides direction and leadership to get there, but does not control the rudder. It’s the same thing in the church. The leader sets the course and the administrator steers and guides the body in order to arrive at the destination.
Each of these gifts are active in the church today. Are you spiritually gifted by God in these areas? If so, how are you fulfilling the purpose God has for you?