Martha had a golden opportunity to encourage, but she was so caught up in her frustration that she discouraged others instead (Luke 10:38-42).

Martha could’ve praised her sister for choosing to learn more, but instead, she saw her as lazy. She could’ve used her time to refresh her Lord in order to strengthen Him for further ministry, but instead, she complained to Him and accused Him of not caring. She was so blinded by her own distractions that she didn’t see the good in others.

When Martha was serving, she wasn’t doing anything wrong. She was doing her duty. She was doing what was expected of her. But in the middle of it all, she allowed herself to become frustrated with others. Mary’s not helping, and you don’t even care!

What if Martha had maintained a sweet spirit while serving? She would’ve felt honored to take care of the needs of the occasion. She would’ve been glad that her own sister could spend time with Jesus.

Consider another woman who was busy serving God but encountered another who didn’t seem like he was. Deborah told Barak of God’s plan for them to overtake Sisera’s army. Barak replied, “If you go with me, I’ll go. If you don’t, I won’t go.”(Judges 4:8-16). Barak probably didn’t react the way she wanted him to. She could’ve been frustrated with him or disappointed in him, but she chose to see the potential in him. She had faith in God’s power to work through His people.

Maybe Barak wanted Deborah with him because she was speaking on behalf of God. Remember, in 1 Samuel 4, the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines, so the elders of Israel thought it’d be a good idea to take the Ark of the Covenant into battle with them. Their reason? “So God will be with us and save us from the Philistines.” Perhaps Barak viewed Deborah as a kind of insurance. Having her with him would be like having God with him. Whatever the reason, Deborah willingly went with him. She didn’t say, “Never mind, I’ll find someone else.” As a result, we see a progression of courage and success in Barak. The battle was won, Barak pursued Sisera, and God got the glory. And Barak finds his name among the faithful individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11.

To encourage is “to put courage into.” Deborah was a true encourager. She didn’t just tell people what to do. She rolled up her sleeves and went to work with them (v. 32-34). Barak may not have reacted exactly like she hoped he would, but she didn’t give up on him. She already knew God wanted to use him, so she found a way to help him reach his potential.

Look for the potential in others. If you’ve had mentors in your life, you’ve been blessed. Who are you blessing? Choose someone to encourage this year. Build them up. Take them out for coffee and let them talk. Tell them what you see God doing through them. Help them step out of their comfort zone by doing whatever it is they find intimidating with them.

Imagine the possibilities if you chose someone to mentor each year! What kind of difference could you make between now and the end of your life if you encourage the potential in others?

Kathy Pollard
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Kathy is married to Neal Pollard, who preaches for the Lehman Ave. church of Christ in Bowling Green, KY. They have three grown sons, all married, and 2 new grandsons with another grandchild on the way! Kathy attended Faulkner University and Bear Valley Bible Institute and has a bachelor’s degree in Bible. She is the author of the book, Return to Me…What to Do When Loved Ones Fall Away. She and Carla Moore host a weekly podcast for Christian women called Looking Up. Kathy enjoys spending time with family, traveling to Israel, tending her gardens, and getting to know her new dairy cow, Peaches.