I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:1-8

Barnabas’ motivational gift was so dominant in his life that it produced his nickname. His real name is Joseph (Acts 4:36). Barnabas means, “son of encouragement.” Barnabas is an excellent example of the motivations of an exhorter (encourager). 1

Here are some examples of the motivation of Barnabas.

  • His message appealed to the will. “When he [Barnabas] came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith (Acts 11:23-24).
  • Barnabas aimed at the believer’s growth and successful living. “When they [Barnabas and Paul] had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22-23).
  • His emphasis was practical and personal. “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:27).
  • Barnabas was always positive and never “gave up” on people. “And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord” (Acts 15:39-40).

Exhortation is a strong life-related motivation. It centers on experience. It is the motivation to see people grow and become mature and established in their personal life and social relationships. It might be called the gift of encouragement to personal progress. It is the ability to stimulate people toward abundant living.

Therefore, exhorters tend to be greatly loved for they are positive in attitude and outlook. They may not be given to introspection and remain self-accepting even in stress. They tend to be self-actualizing.

Unlike the teacher, truth is truth for an exhorter, whether it comes from the Bible or from experience. For the exhorter, the Word must become flesh. A teacher believes presented truth is adequate, but an exhorter wants to go on to personal results. When exhorters speak, they very much need the full interest and attention of every listener, for this is the main thrust of their gift, the person.

Some examples of Biblical exhortations will demonstrate the life-related emphasis of the exhorter.

  • How one ought to live. “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
  • How to please God. ( see above)
  • How to live a life worthy of God. “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)
  • How to progress in love. “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more…” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10).
  • How to live so people will respect others. “…and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
  • How to face trials. “…strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
  • How to understand chastening. “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:5-6).

If you find that you are constantly motivated to do what you can to help other people make progress in their lives, you just might have the motivational gift of an exhorter.

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  1. Much of this material on Motivational Gifts, comes from an unpublished syllabus created by one of my early professors, Dr. Donald Pickerill.