When Encouragement Leads to Enabling

“Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life,

but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.”

Proverbs 10:17 ESV

I am about to embark on something that might make some uncomfortable, but I feel, in complete honesty, that it needs to be mentioned.

Friends, not all encouragement is good or for the benefit of others.  Sometimes, what we deem as encouragement can very well be enabling that person in sin, disobedience, and in ways that are detrimental to their health or livelihood.

It is hard nowadays to tell someone the truth about their actions, even if you are coming to them as a friend.  We either don’t want to hurt their feelings, or we don’t feel it is our place to comment, or we are caught in this idea that we are judging if we try to correct or share with someone a differing opinion or perspective.

When I coach those in my Virtual Bootcamp, I am not content to let them stay that way they were before they joined my group. I am all for girl-power and encouragement. I am all for loving our body and the skin we are in.

But, the reason why those gals chose to do my bootcamp was not just so I could be their cheerleader. It was so that I could tell them the truth and help them reach their health and fitness goals.

If someone tells me they are struggling with meal planning or eating healthier, or finding time to workout, and I ask them their schedule or their budget……and they aren’t willing to adjust  or heed the advice I give them…..are they willing wanting to change? Or do they just want to be encouraged and told that what they are doing is working when it clearly is not!

Now, let’s be clear.  Do not be cruel. Being honest with someone about where they are at does not mean that you get to have an attitude and be rude. That’s not honesty or keeping it real.  That just makes you mean. If being mean means keeping it real, no thanks. We don’t have time for mean girls. We are past middle school, got it?

You can encourage, while also offering constructive tips to help that person.

Say a good friend of yours is going through a hard time in her marriage.  She feels her husband does not help a lot with the house and she posts it on Facebook for all to see, are you really encouraging her and helping her by affirming her post and being okay with her criticizing her husband on social media? No. You are enabling destructive behavior because her comments will get back to her husband.  He may very well not be helpful around the house, but we can affirm her heart while also helping her see that there are other ways to deal with issues in their marriage.

If I were her friend, I would have told her to take down the post. How would she feel if her husband posted something similar about her on social media? 

We can love people where they are at, but we must be bold enough to speak up if we see painful or destructive behavior or sin.  We do not want to be enablers. We want to help people out of the pits they find themselves in.  But that takes effort.

Just like someone who wants to lose weight or get healthier needs to get up and do something about it, we must encourage them to do so. We can’t tell them they are doing just fine when we literally see them struggling and on a hamster wheel of failed results.

We can be better friends than that.

Be a Size You,