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. (ESV)
I would imagine that you have probably used the word, "exhortation," in a sentence recently. Other Bible translations translate this word as "encouragement." I think that encouragement is definitely an exhortation, I believe that to exhort another person can go far beyond just encouraging them. In fact, not everyone may want to be exhorted, but we all need it.
Let me explain. The word exhort carries with it the ability to speak into someone's life words that will encourage them when they need encouragement, but also tell them that their life is going in the wrong direction and that they need to make a change. We seem to enjoy being told that we are doing well. I do not know to many who like to hear that they are erring in any way.
It takes a special person to be an exhorter of the brethren. Not everyone has this gift specifically, although we may all be called upon at times to exhort someone as the Lord leads. To effectively exhort a brother or sister in Christ one would need to have established a reputation of being a loving person. To exhort without love can would a person.
I once had a person tell me that they had a hard time with my sermons. I inquired as to why. They told me that they did not always feel good about themselves when I finished preaching. I told them that my job is to show them the truth of Scripture. If they are walking in obedience they will feel the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, "well done." If they are in disobedience they will hear, "repent."
Exhortation. Speaking the truth in love. It is a difficult task that all of us will at times have to do. Some are gifted at it. You should hope that your pastor has this gift!
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