Institute in Basic Life Principles

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What is the spiritual gift of exhorting?

Exhorting: A Spiritual Gift
Exhorting: A Spiritual Gift

A Christian’s motivational spiritual gift represents what God does in him to shape his perspective on life and motivate his words and actions. Romans 12:3–8 describes “basic motivations,” which are characterized by inherent qualities or abilities within a believer—the Creator’s unique workmanship within him or her.

Through the motivational gifts, God makes believers aware of needs that He wants to meet through them, for His glory. Then, believers can minister to others through the ministry and manifestation gifts of the Spirit, in ways beyond mere human capability and ingenuity, with maximum effectiveness and minimum weariness.

Each person’s behavior will vary according to factors such as temperament, background, age, gender, culture, and circumstances. However, it is not unusual for individuals who share the same motivational gift to demonstrate common characteristics. Below are some general characteristics that are typically exhibited by those who have the motivational gift of exhorting.

General Characteristics

An exhorter’s central motivational drive is to encourage believers to mature in Christ and to grow spiritually. Exhorters often seek to stimulate that development by discipling, teaching, and counseling others.

  • An exhorter regards God’s sovereignty as his “favorite” characteristic of God.
  • Exhorters regard trials as opportunities for growth. Since God is in control, they recognize that whatever happens has potential to glorify God and conform believers to the image of Jesus Christ. The exhorter sympathizes with the suffering Christian, but he sees the pain through the lens of God’s sovereignty rather than through the lens of suffering. (A person with the motivational gift of mercy, on the other hand, would see the pain through the lens of suffering.)
  • Exhorters express love through availability.
  • Given a choice of helping someone “spiritually” or helping him with a physical need (such as taking a meal to him or mowing his lawn while he’s in the hospital), the exhorter prefers to offer spiritual help. Given a choice of encouraging by empathy or encouraging by exhortation, a person with this motivational gift will exhort every time.
  • Wise counsel flows from the heart of an exhorter who can identify precepts and principles in God’s Word skillfully.
  • Exhorters love to encourage, encourage, encourage!
  • Exhorters and mercy-givers make a good team for counseling someone who is discouraged. The person with the gift of mercy empathizes—he knows how the downhearted person feels. The exhorter exhorts—he knows how the person needs to feel! The exhorter’s job is to give hope by sharing a Biblical perspective on the situation and reminding people of God’s power, love, and faithfulness. An exhorter avoids weeping with others (as the mercy-giver would weep) because he sees empathy as encouragement to wallow in self-pity. The exhorter wants to “move on” past the pain and take advantage of the opportunity to become more Christlike.
  • An exhorter responds to problems by prescribing specific steps of action; His goal is to make the plan so easy to comprehend that people will understand it, see its potential, embrace it, and grow as a result of carrying it out.

An Exhorter’s Strengths

  • An exhorter uses Scripture to validate the experience.
  • Exhorters are willing and eager to come alongside a brother or sister in Christ during difficult circumstances.
  • Memorization of, and meditation on, Scripture are usually very important to the exhorter, because he wants to be able to draw wisdom from the well of truth stored in his spirit.
  • An exhorter sees every little detail, including the timing of every event, as part of God’s good and loving plan.
  • Because an exhorter sees trials in a positive light, which is opposite of the world’s way of seeing them, an exhorter continually reminds people of God’s sovereignty and love.
  • Exhorters focus on balance; they avoid extremes, especially in doctrine.
  • An exhorter seems to be able to give thanks in all seasons and circumstances, including the darkest ones.
  • Exhorters understand that time reading and studying the Word of God brings more than information; it brings transformation.

An Exhorter’s Weaknesses

  • Exhorters tend to need visible evidence of acceptance and affirmation.
  • They can easily oversimplify solutions, which ultimately results in discouragement rather than encouragement.
  • Surprisingly, exhorters can be poor listeners, even though they make excellent counselors. Sometimes they are so intent on telling you how to view your situation from God’s perspective that they fail to listen to your viewpoint.
  • Mature exhorters give wise counsel from the Word of God. Therefore, their counsel usually proves to be effective. Unfortunately, their success often tempts exhorters to promote principles as formulas, and the formulas as cure-alls.
  • Exhorters are often naïve and easily manipulated.
  • Because an exhorter wants so badly for Scripture to provide a successful step of action to eliminate a problem, he may quote Scripture out of context or imply that it says something that it doesn’t mean, rationalizing that the end justifies the means. This is a devastating trap for the exhorter.

Are You an Exhorter?

Learn more about the traits often demonstrated by those who have this gift.

The articles on spiritual gifts have been developed from a variety of sources, including the booklet, Understanding Spiritual Gifts.

For Further Study





I found this article to be pretty much dead-on target regarding my strengths and weaknesses as someone whose most prominent spiritual gift is exhortation. My wife likes to call me "Mr. Fix It" and not in a flattering way. As mentioned above, I, at times, find myself bringing out my check list of actions to be taken to "fix" a situation. I'm so busy running that checklist through my filters and focusing on "gettin' her done" that I don't listen as well as I should. At times, my wife (or others to whom I speaking) are really more interested in just getting things off their chest ... having someone listen to the frustration, pain, or sorrow they have or are experiencing than they are about what I believe they need to do to remedy the situation. This has caused my wife some considerable grief over the years, but I think I finally got it through my thick skull that I need to shut up, listen up, and pray up. If she wants to know what I think she should do, that's fine ... but until she does - shut. up.


Yes Redeemed, your wife does need you to just listen to her instead of "fix" her problems. I'm glad you figured this out. Speaking from experience I can imagine the hurt this may have caused your wife in the past.

C. Washington

I am truly enlightened by what I've read and learned about myself and my spiritual gifts. I am amazed as to how accurate the information describes my personality. I came to accept some time ago that God made me as I am for His purpose. Thank you for helping me to understand how and why. Many Blessings to you for all you give to others.


Very good


Helpful information and encouraging.


To redeemed
You nailed me. To those I see a lot I felt an instruction from the Lord not to answer more than once most of the time just because I say too much in my zeal to try to get it corrected. (Make it brief and meaningful the first
Thanks for sharing,


Love this article

Jennifer Blannon

This was very good informtion. It was so right on. That was like looking at myself in the mirror. The negatives are not too hard to take anymore because it just proves that God is still working it out in me. Transforming me so I may be better able to help facilitate the transformation in others. Oh glory be to the Father for allowing me to be a willing vessel to be used as he sees fit for his honor and glory.


Wow! I have been praying for a short while for Our Father to show me my purpose, after reading this I found my purpose. I too like Redeemed need to keep a closed mouth. Thanks for this data, now I am well aware of my purpose. Amen

Sharon ann

I was just talking to someone, about finally realizing i have the gift of exhortation. I was told that exhortation was not a gift of the spirit, but that all believers possess this in them. I believe it is a gift, so i started looking and i found this page. Thank You so much. I needed't that one of our weaknesses?...I am growing in this gift in my life and man the weaknesses hit home, as well as strengths....Praise God, for He know the plans he has for my life !



Here am I; Send me!

Here am I; Send me!


I've come to this page more than a few times. When I first heard of the gift of exhortation, I was like... hmmm... I don't think I like the way the word "exhortation" sounds... give me another one. But everything pointed back to exhortation so I decided to accept it and learn more about it. I come back to this page because it has been helpful.

Today for the first time I read through the comments. I have been trying to "fix" problems presented to me by my family and friends and they have rejected it time and time again. I thought when they started talking about what was wrong they were seeking a solution, so I started processing solutions. They just wanted to talk about it. I still struggle with that. To me, if you don't want to look for ways to fix a problem, then you're just complaining.

Something happened not too long ago that was an eye opener for me. I realized I was getting agitated by someone offering me solutions to what wasn't actually a problem, but something I was processing. That's when it hit me. This is how others feel when I go into "fix it" mode. Thank you Lord. Got it.

It won't necessarily change right away, but I see the pattern and I'm learning to listen.. or at least pretend I'm listening. I haven't quite figured out how to be genuinely interested in the random conversations that the person just drones on about over and over and over again and wonders why nothing changes.

Oluwaseun Awonusonu

I have a question though I think that maybe having the gift of mercy could compensate for an exhorters weaknesses that's why I would love to have the gift of mercy I really want this gift it's a beautiful gift I have the gift of encouragement but I would also like to have mercy on people . It's weird though because I feel like I have it but then I'm not so sure ...


The main thing that blessed me about this article is the information on the weaknesses and strengths and how much I can identify with them without feeling condemned. You have provided critical information that will help me to become what The Lord has designed me to be. God bless you and our ministry to continue to help the body of Christ, so that we can help others.

Demetria Johnson

Confirmation for me too Sharon Ann, Glory to God! He knows the plans He has for me! I was told by a very spiritual woman of God that I had the gift of exhortation. I didn't really know what that meant. I basically didn't give another thought until recently as I begin to search the Word for my spiritual gifts and my purpose. I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal my gift to me. Reading the strengths and weaknesses answered all my questions and confirmed my purpose. I can relate to each and everyone of them. I thank God for the gift of exhortation and I pray that with study and daily application I can fulfill my purpose in this life for His glory.


Sounds like me!


Dear Oluwaseun Awonusonu, you are desiring a beautiful combination. It is the Holy Spirit who gives gifts, but we are encouraged to desire the gifts (with proper motivation, which it seems you have).

Quite early in my walk with Christ, I recognized in myself a strong gift of exhortation, and delighted in it... but also realized that I could be like a bull in a china shop... out of balance. So I prayed for months that the Lord would give me a heart of compassion, that I might exhort out of a tender heart. He answered that prayer. One dear co-worker recognized the change in me over time, and another teaching leader declared I had the gift of mercy (which I don't think I do... but was intrigued that she saw God's compassion in me to that extent).

Beautiful prayer, Oluwaseun Awonusonu! God's gift expressed from His heart are wondrous evidence of His manifest presence among us.


I'm thoroughly blessed by this article. Just what I needed. I've got a question though that bugs me a lot, as I've acknowledged that I'm an exhorter, I do it willingly all the time without thinking. However, in my encouraging and motivating people, sometimes I wonder if they don't bother about being encouraged or motivated by someone who doesn't have it all together herself. What I mean is, does one have to have a good marriage to encourage someone who's struggling with theirs, or do I have to have money or visible riches to encourage someone or motivate someone that is the giver of all things, while it doesn't seem so in my own life. Do you get me? please I know my weakness very well, I dont want to oversimplyfy. May God bless you in your ministry.

Oluwaseun Awonusonu

It's so funny because now I know that my primary gift is Mercy it's not Exhortation . I remember I wrote last year saying I wanted the gift of Mercy not even knowing that that's who I am and that's my gift . Now I know and can fully enjoy it . I actauly see why I thought I had exhortation . It's because I grew up with a Mom who has the gift of exhortation . And I got some of my characteristics from her . So basically I have the gift of mercy but I have exhorter characteristics that also help me minister in the gift of mercy . If that makes sense I just need to pray to God and ask Him what He wants me to do so I can feel the most fulfilled . I think going through a hard time in my life helped know my true gift too .


Excellent article.

Teresa Lynn Mcbride

Thank you for the information on Exortation ! That's definitely my motivational gift! Question; Do you have any information on how to shorten the list of weaknesses?


oh! i love this article so much. i was asked by the evangelist to prepare a teaching on Romans 12:8 .. just the word EXHORTATION therein scared me. i was looking for synonyms of the word to ease my preparation of the teaching. The dictionary could not help me as well. But when i stepped on this article, i didn't only get the synonyms i was looking for, But i got a whole lesson that inspired me, and gave me an insight on how to go about it... i learnt a lot of new things about this gift which edified my Spiritual growth a lot.
More blessing for sharing Beloved..


The most help I have gotten, the best instruction in how to exhort, has been from the Bible...when I read every passage that speaks of exhortation I was well and thoroughly exhorted! Have not been the same since, thanks be to the Lord...*smile*


What an excellent article. I wasn't even aware of a 'gift of exhortation' but was talking to Holy Spirit about an up coming preaching invitation. I remember saying - in the conversation, that when I'm asked to preach I'm going to say that I'm not a preacher but I will give an exhortation. I then decided to google 'exhortation' as I wasn't really sure what it meant!!!! Lo and behold, after reading your article, it seems as if I have the GIFT OF EXHORTATION!!! I am amazed! The characteristics (apart from seeking approval) are me down to a tee! Thank you.


I've been wondering my purpose for the past few months and this article really helped me see a spiritual gift I was not familiar with before. I'll need to pray but this definitely was a useful article!

Christine Weber

Wow! This is dead on for me!! Someone just spoke a word to me and told me I have this gift of exhortation!!! I read this and it’s all me to a T!!! I just said earlier today how I know God made me do 6 years of door knocking selling home security to get me to learn how to LISTEN to people to be able to relate to them!! GOD IS SO GOOD!!! Thank you for this!!

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