I work in an organisation I innocently nickname, “The cult of encouragement”. Seriously, if you are a student or staff with us, we will encourage you to overflowing. Giftings we recognise. Character we see displayed. Traits we love. Heck, if you are having a good hair day, we’ll let you know. It’s a wonderful thing and can be very healing for a lot of people. Their proverbial “love tank” get’s filled to overflowing. We don’t always get it right but, in general, it is part of our culture.
Sometimes I see staff that almost become addicted to it. They live from one encouragement to another. It’s almost as if they can’t survive without constant reminders, “You are a wonderful person! God loves you! You have so many giftings and talents!”
Is it possible to be encouraged too much?
On my flight today I was looking through the infamous SkyMall magazine. I came across a must-have sterling silver engraved necklace with this deep and profound quote:
“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
-Christopher Robin to Pooh
As I read this I smiled to myself and thought, “Oh, poor Pooh.” This is a mantra for those going through tough times, challenges and difficulties. What is Pooh to do in those times? According to Christopher Robin, encourage himself that he’s got the bravery, strength and wisdom all within himself. You can do it Pooh!
This may be the creed in the 1,000 Acre Woods but it shouldn’t be the mantra for followers of Jesus.
I think we need more reminders that go like this:
Promise me you will always remember: you may not be as brave as needed, as strong as you believe or as smart as anyone else. But, Jesus.”
When it comes to encouragement let us remember that who we are is not the ultimate thing. Who we are in Jesus is.
Be cautious when a good thing becomes the ultimate thing. Encouragement is a good thing. I shouldn’t let it become the ultimate thing. The ultimate thing is Jesus.
The very nature of the gospel is that I don’t need to be brave, strong and smart. In fact, I’m not as brave, strong or smart as I need to be. But, Jesus.
How can we tell when we have bought into the cult of encouragement more than the freedom of the Gospel?
We should be able to hear things like this and it bring peace:
“Well, you are not good enough to accomplish this task. There are other people that are more talented than you in this area. But, Jesus does like to use inept people! You never know, in spite of yourself this might turn out alright!”
If that would devastate you, you likely have a Savior that looks more like you having to be perfect than Jesus who was perfect.
Perhaps this is why scripture didn’t stop at “Let us encourage one another”. It kept going, “Let us encourage one another in Christ“.
Encouragement literally means to “put courage in”. Nothing puts courage in like being reminded that we don’t need to be strong brave or smart like Pooh. We can fall short in many ways. But, Jesus.
Let’s promise ourselves that we will always remember that.