2 Timothy 4:2, NIV:  Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.

Tom always felt that God had fashioned him to be an encourager. Time and again, he had seen God use him to lift up the downhearted, and motivate brothers and sisters who needed godly counsel. But somewhere along the way, his gift became a cross and the ministry became more about the task, than the individuals. And soon, it was Tom needing to be encouraged. Ministry, perhaps, can be seen as a double-edged sword. With it, we wield the power of the Spirit to bring hope, healing, and providential care. But care must be taken, lest the ministry become burdensome, and the reason to minister be forgotten. Throughout our Christian life, we will have opportunities to minister to others "--with great patience and careful instruction." We must continue to look into the eyes of the people to see the needs, and look to God to discover how He would use us to minister to the needs.