For her first foray into organized recreation, Chloe wanted to try cheerleading. It was a traveling cheer squad, which went wherever the boys’ football team went.
Amy and I signed her up, took her to the practices and made sure she practiced her cheers at home. We wanted her to be prepared for when she stood on the sidelines and led cheers for the team.
Cheerleaders sometimes get a bum rap. They’re made fun of and depicted as dimwits. But cheerleaders really do perform an important job.
What is that important job, you may ask? They lead cheers.
They cheer on the players who are on the field. They inspire and “fire up” the spectators, who will, in turn, cheer for the players. All of this is designed to inspire the players to play harder and put their all into the game.
Cheerleading is necessary in sporting events. Cheerleading is also necessary in the Christian life.
Believe it or not, the Bible has something to say about cheerleading. Not cheerleading as we envision it today, but the idea of encouragement is strongly represented in scripture.
In Ephesians 4:29, Paul tells the church in Ephesus, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
No one knows who wrote the book of Hebrews, but many scholars believe one possibility was Barnabas, who was known as an encourager. In fact, his name literally means, “Son of Encouragement.”
When you build others up with encouraging words and spur one another along toward love and good deeds, you’re acting as a cheerleader. You’re inspiring them to keep doing what is right and not to give in to what is wrong.
You’re also performing an important role by “firing up” others who may then, in turn, build up others, too. One “fires up” another, who encourages another, who cheers on another.
Players need cheerleaders. Christians need them, too. Be an encourager to the ones around you. By doing that, you will help them grow as a Christian and spur them on to do more for the Kingdom of God.
The Rev. Parrish Myers is a local minister living in Braselton. His column appears biweekly in Sunday Life and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.