My kids like to ask me a lot about the years before they were born. I very often get questions like, “Did your mom make this food for you?” “What was your favorite color, game, food, movie, etc.?” “What were you like at my age?”
I’m sure if you are a parent, that you have had similar conversations. I remember that my mom had an old, solid wood hope chest at the end of her bed when I was a kid. I loved looking through her old pictures, yearbooks, trinkets, and keepsakes. I think it’s a natural part of the parent/child relationship to want to understand who they were before you were.
On one such conversation with my oldest daughter who is eight, she wanted to know if I was in gymnastics like her or if I could do flips. I told her about my cheerleading days in junior high and high school and how we did do some tumbling. She was so interested and I had to break out old pictures and do some cheers I still remember for her. It was a fun little trip down memory lane that got me to thinking.
I may not be able to fit into that uniform anymore (We all know I can’t!), but I am still a cheerleader. I lost the pom poms and athletic ability years ago but encouragement is still a large part of who I am, or should be. As a Christian woman, it’s important for me to cheer on my husband, kids, and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up.” The way I see it, a cheerleader has two main goals:
1) To cheer on and motivate those who are on the playing field.
2) To get the crowd involved in the cheers and in the game.
Motivating the Players
The players are the ones in the game. They are going head to head with the other team. They are striving to win at any cost. When I think of the players as it applies to the Christian life, I think of the Christians we know who are under spiritual attack. They are not just trying to win some game on a field; they are fighting a spiritual battle against the powers of darkness. (Eph. 6:12) In fact, everyday, if we are picking up our cross to follow Christ, we are in the fight. Although, I think we can all identify those who seem to be under heavy attack and/or struggling. These players need serious, committed cheerleaders.
I’m not talking about those who want to look cute and pretend like they are for you and say things like, “I’m praying for you.” I’m talking about cheerleaders who are cheering them on hard. They are praying scripture over them, they are sharing encouraging words with them, they are providing aid on the sidelines like tangible help to them and their families, and most of all, they don’t leave before the game is over. They stick it out with them no matter how many overtimes they go into and they remember that God never leaves a man behind.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Isaiah 35:3
Getting the Crowd Involved
The crowd put on their fan gear and they came out to watch the game so clearly they are interested. But, we need them more than just spectators. We need them fully engaged!! Like, standing up chanting with us, like painting their faces and bellies type of crazy buy in engagement. When I think of the crowd, I think of those who are curious about the Christian faith or new believers who have only dipped their pinky toe in. These people, the bible calls the weak in faith, and they need our ongoing cheerleading to get them motivated and involved. (Rom. 14:1, Rom. 15:1-2) They need us to sit down with them in serious discipleship and teach them the scriptures. They need us telling them how proud we are of each mark of faith and each healthy rhythm they make with the spiritual disciplines. They need us to encourage, build up, and support their small steps until we have turned them into full blown cheerleaders too!
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2
“‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.’” John 15:16
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20
I don’t know about you but sometimes, I get caught up in my own little world as a mom, wife, teacher, friend, etc. that I forget that I was once a cheerleader. I think it’s like that as believers, life gets tough and we get busy and we forget that we were called to be cheerleaders for others. We were called to live life together, to bear another’s burdens, to encourage them, lift them up, and even humble ourselves to put their needs before our own. Hebrews 10:24 reminds us to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” Being a cheerleader is an important job and we need more of them in Christian church.
I remember in high school that some of the other athletes used to say, “Cheerleading isn’t a real sport.” Well I am here to tell you that it is!! We had to do conditioning, stretching, tumbling, and put in a lot of hours and sweat. I did 2 a days all summer. In Oklahoma, it gets hot, and we did one practice in the morning before the sun was fully up and another practice in the evening when the sun was going down. During the school year, we had a special 5th hour practice and after school practice. We not only prepared to cheer for football and basketball but also learned routines for competitions.
I am not putting it up for debate, cheerleaders are athletes and they don’t end up getting much notoriety or credit. So goes with us as cheerleaders of the faith, we may never be recognized for the agonizing moments we sit praying over others, the long hours we spend helping or discipling new believers, the amount of meals or kids we’ve kept encouraging those saints in the spiritual battles, or the behind the scenes work that we do for our church communities. But, in the end, it doesn’t matter because God knows. He will not let us grow weary of doing good nor will He overlook our attitude that champions others and fail to bless us for it.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. Matthew 16:27
Team Pep Talk
Thanks for hanging with me on this post. I know it was rather long for a blog but I felt like the Holy Spirit just kept putting so much on my heart and mind. I would love to hear your thoughts. Are you doing a good job of a spiritual cheerleader and encourager? Who could you reach out and encourage today? Which scriptures spoke to you? Are you currently a player or in the crowd? Can I pray for you? Give me a holler.
The Gospel Explained– If you are a curious spectator, give this short video a watch. I would love to pray and chat with you further too.
More on Spiritual Warfare-Resources from Chuck Swindoll