ENTITLEMENT is the theme of John Townsend’s book, The Entitlement Cure (Zondervan, 2015). Part way through the book (pages 38-42) he mentions some of the problems with praise. His thesis is, when we praise and reward people:
1. For what takes no effort;
2. For what is required;
4. For what demands special ability and creates identity;
5. Based on unreality.
We end up empowering a sense of entitlement in people; a bad outcome.
In other words, we take them away from growth, healing and wholeness, which is perhaps the intention, and we take them into narcissistic entitlement.
Sometimes praise can actually be bad for us.
But there are many times when praise, in the form of encouragement, can take us from what I’d call the opposite of narcissism (a lack of self-belief) into growth, healing and wholeness.
Townsend’s book talks a lot about pain, hardship; the hard way; that, the hard way is the better way to live. So these are the people we ought to encourage — those who are not doing it easy in life.
We know that praising in the wrong way is bad for people. But praising people is good when:
1. They ‘turn up’ especially when life’s brutal;
2. They’re in a development phase and the learning curve is steep;
3. When there is something — even a little thing — that is remarkably noteworthy (just by saying “I saw that great thing you did”);
4. For the heart and innovation behind something, and not the actual good deed itself;
5. When a person has faced a stark truth and not shied away from it.
Encourage others when life is tough, when they’ve done something terrific, and when they’ve faced the truth.
Encouragement is power for good that keeps on giving.
En-courage-ment: in the courage goes, because it’s meant well. In other words, encouragement means the courage we give others goes in, because it’s meant well.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.