What is the greatest ministry gift that the Spirit can bestow on a person in our current age? Is it not the ministry of encouragement? Not the encouragement of the world but of the Body of Christ. The greatest thing you can do for a brother and sister in the Lord is to lift them up spiritually, to speak words of encouragement into their lives, words that would enable the Spirit to encourage them in the darkest moments. It is an anointed ministry. We can all encourage but the spiritual gift of encouragement is a supernaturally powerful thing.
Maybe we forget that part of the reason we are here is to lift each other up. Maybe spiritual leaders forget they are here to build up the Body of Christ; not for personal gain but to see people grow in the Lord. Sometimes that encouragement includes correction.
Too many of us see encouragement as cheer leading but for leaders in the Body it also includes positive correction that helps people come closer to the Lord. Apostle Paul was a great example of this because he clearly understood it:
This is why I’m writing these things while I’m away. I’m writing so that I won’t need to act harshly when I’m with you by using the authority that the Lord gave me. He gave it to me so that I could build you up, not tear you down. (2 Corinthians 13:10)
Jesus told his disciples that leadership in the Kingdom means servanthood. Leaders of the Church are not like leaders of the world, they are not lords but ones who lay down their lives in service to the Body. But this type of leadership also requires leaders to correct in the same sense of a parent. It is never pleasant but necessary to reach the goal. The goal is spiritual maturity.
Correction that is brought is not meant to lead to destruction but to build up. Correction in the world involves vengeful justice but in the Church we do not look for justice; we look for correction, restoration and growth. Leaders must constantly demonstrate the forgiveness, mercy, grace, and correction of our Lord, and it costs us a lot because taking correction requires a level of maturity that much of the Church is lacking. But, good, Christ-centered leaders understand that this is what we are to do with the authority that has been given to us.