Summary: We could all use a little boost every now and then. Some synonyms for “boost” are: improve, make better, advance. Sound refreshing? Sound invigorating?
NEED A BOOST?
INTRODUCTION: We could all use a little more encouragement in our lives, don’t you think? We get run-down, we get disheartened. We wonder if what we’re doing really matters to anyone. We could all use a little boost every now and then. No, not the energy drink, although that might help too. But there are times when we could all use a helping hand or a pep talk. Some synonyms for “boost” are: improve, make better, advance. To give someone a boost means we are lifting them up; we are encouraging them. When we give someone a boost we are supporting them, inspiring them, motivating them. We are building them up when they are knocked down. Sound refreshing? Sound invigorating?
1) Why is encouragement so uncommon?
• Because people are jealous. I am certainly not going to encourage you when I’m jealous of your accomplishments. Also, because of my jealousy, when you fail at something I’m going to be happy. Therefore, not only will I not be encouraging, I will probably be kicking you when you’re down. In my mind you need to be taken down a peg or two. When I can tell that you’re feeling down my thoughts will be, “serves you right for thinking you’re all that.” When people are jealous, encouraging someone is probably the furthest thing from their minds.
• Because people are discouraged. One of the reasons people are discouraged is because they haven’t been encouraged very much throughout their lives. And because of this they have become pessimistic in nature. The glass is half-empty, they’re waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under them. “Things never work out for me”, “I’m such a loser”, “I hate my life; I hate myself”. It’s much harder to encourage someone else when this is my mode of thought. Why would I and how could I encourage someone else when I’m so discouraged? People who are discouraged are waiting for someone to encourage them. Therefore, one of the reasons why encouragement is so uncommon is there are too many people waiting to be encouraged and not enough people doing the encouraging.
• Because it’s easier to point out someone’s faults than their abilities. It’s easier for us to focus on what you’re doing wrong than what you’re doing right. Why? One reason is because of our unrealistic expectations. We think people should be at a certain level and when they don’t perform up to our standards we light into them. We put people on a pedestal and even put them in a perfection bubble. We see them as someone who can do no wrong but as soon as they do something wrong our bubble is burst and we attack them. That’s why we don’t point out their abilities-their abilities are not anything special to us because we’ve erroneously elevated them to an impossible status. Their faults, however, are something we feel they just shouldn’t have and we can’t understand what’s wrong with them that they would commit such foolishness. Another reason is because of our pride and ego. When I highlight your faults it can make me look better. I’m not going to encourage you, I’m going to gloat. I’m going to view your faults as a beneficial thing for me. Complimenting you would not make me look good. Highlighting your shortcomings, however, can put me in a better light. Another reason why we focus on faults more is because we view giving compliments as a negative thing. “Well, don’t start complimenting them or else they’ll start to expect a pat on the back every time they do something”. The Duke of Wellington, the British military leader who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, was not an easy man to serve under. He was brilliant but also quite demanding and not one to shower his subordinates with compliments. Yet even Wellington realized that his methods left something to be desired. In his old age a young lady asked him what, if anything, he would do differently if he had his life to live over again. Wellington thought for a moment then replied, "I’d give more praise".
2) Why is encouragement so necessary?
• Because it can make a big difference. Prov. 12:25, “An anxious heart weighs a man down but a kind word cheers him up.” There was once a literary group that gathered at the University of Wisconsin. The members wanted to be poets, novelists and authors--and they had the talent to be successful. These young men met regularly to read and critique each other’s work. After a while, they began calling themselves the Stranglers because they were very tough in their evaluations. At the same time, a group of women formed a sister group and called themselves not the Stranglers but the Wranglers. When they read their works aloud, something much different occurred. They offered constructive suggestions tinged with positive encouragement. They erred on the side of motivation rather than mutilation. 20 years later, an alumnus studied the careers of his classmates and made a surprising discovery. Not one of the gifted male Stranglers had made a significant literary accomplishment. But at least six successful authors were former Wranglers. The Wranglers knew the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. They didn’t use flattery, they used encouragement and the results showed how much of a difference it made.