The gift of Exhortation is the special ability to counsel or challenge others toward a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. Often, the gift of Exhortation is utilized to motivate the Church in general or a Christ Follower in particular, to make God-honoring choices. If sensitivity and tact is not properly developed, the person gifted with Exhortation may not immediately be appreciated. The gift of Exhortation is somewhat similar to the role of the Old Testament prophets in challenging God’s people to remain faithful. While the prophets were not immediately valued, and often persecuted, their service was indispensable to the spiritual health and vitality of the biblical faith community.
People who possess the gift of Exhortation will not avoid conflict. It is not that they love conflict. In fact, everything inside them may hate conflict. People with the gift of Exhortation feel a deep responsibility before God to challenge and encourage those that may be taking a path that does not honor the Lord, to correct their misguided choices. In Acts 14:22, the Apostle Paul consistently serves to “strengthen the disciples and to encourage them to remain true to the faith”. In Act 11:23, Barnabas encouraged the people of Antioch to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. Again, in 1 Thessalonians 2:12, the Apostle Paul describes their ministry among the Thessalonians as “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory”. The gift of Exhortation is always expressed in a “personal appeal”…even when focused on a group. The group is comprised of individuals, and each individual is responsible for their own decisions and actions before God. This is why people often react defensively when first hearing a word of exhortation. When this gift is utilized appropriately, it will either be received by humble and contrite hearts, or the recipients will respond with hostility and transference. They may assert that the person using the gift of Exhortation is judgmental, critical or harsh. For this reason, the person utilizing the gift of Exhortation should make every effort to ensure that “how” they communicate does not get in the way of “what” they are called to communicate on God’s behalf. However, even when every effort has been made to communicate a word of exhortation carefully and lovingly, the exhorter should not be surprised if the communication is initially rejected…along with the one who communicated the message. People with the gift of Exhortation quickly learn that they need to give the Holy Spirit an opportunity to do his work of conviction and sanctification.More about the Spiritual Gifts Test