Charism of Encouragement

Description: Nurtures or fosters others through presence and words of comfort, encouragement and counsel.

2 min video testimony of lady from Abingdon who provides a nurturing environment to support new mothers at a ‘Baby Cafe’.

Testimony for the Charism of Encouragement

When I listened to Sherry Weddell describing the Charism of Encouragement, I could see that this was very similar to what I had been doing in my work as a Business Consultant. But was it really a charism, or just a skill? The Charism of Encouragement focuses on nurturing individuals through one on-one encounters and, as a Business Consultant, I had worked with my clients one by one. I would listen to them, affirm them, strengthen them, and so give them the courage to make changes. I received very good feedback, people said that talking to me had really helped them and that I had a real gift for listening – but was this a charism, or just something that I had learned to do well?

“the effect on the other person was way beyond anything that could have been achieved by anything that I had said or done.”

When I spent time with my Christian friends, listening and saying whatever I felt the Lord was prompting me to say, my friends would say that they had really sensed the presence of God during our time together. This amazed me, as I hadn’t said anything particularly special at all. So I felt that, yes indeed, this was a charism that the Holy Spirit had given me because the effect on the other person was way beyond anything that could have been achieved by anything that I had said or done. The feedback I have had from other people has also helped me to recognise this as a charism.

A friend of mine told me recently that her husband had said that he felt I was someone he would find it easy to talk to. What surprised me was that we hadn’t said anything to each other – he just been part of a meeting I was leading!

“People that I don’t know very well at all will just come up to me and start talking about their personal lives.”

Knowing I have this charism has given me the confidence to make myself available to others, because I can trust that God will bless others though me. So I tend to hang around at church events, just to give people the opportunity to talk with me if they want to. And people do want to. People that I don’t know very well at all will just come up to me and start talking about their personal lives. I also make myself available by just keeping in touch with people – I use WhatsApp a lot because then I don’t have to say much, but it still keeps the relationship going. Having this charism means that I no longer feel that I have to refer everyone to our parish priest – I am confident that the Holy Spirit will be able to help them through me instead.

While people are talking to me, I pray for them and pray for wisdom to say the right thing. After we have chatted, I don’t dwell on what they have said and often I completely forget. This is because I can trust God to have done what He wanted to do during our conversation, so I can just leave it with Him. I’ve seen very positive results from doing this – one lady who had lost confidence in God completely has gradually returned to faith and is now able to cope with her work once again. Sometimes people need to be nurtured like this over a long period of time, so I still meet up with this lady once a month. I have also seen people become much confident after I have encouraged them – they seem to have much more courage in using their own charisms and in putting their ideas into action.

“It is amazing how they respond to affirming words or open up to me so that I can encourage them.”

In my neighbourhood I get involved in local activities, like being the Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator for my street. I do these things so that I
can use my charism with people outside the Church and who aren’t my good friends. It is amazing how they respond to affirming words or open up to me so that I can encourage them. People say things like “nobody else has said that to me” and they feel more confident to work through problems or lead a local activity. Sometimes I feel very tired and don’t want to go out to events in the evening, but I go because know that these are chances to use my charism and will hopefully make a difference to somebody. When I get there I find the tiredness disappears and I feel energised and purposeful! I think of all these people as being ‘poor in spirit’ because they acknowledge they are struggling with life. We know that Jesus wants us to help the poor, so I know that He will help me to help them.