“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
You have a child who has worked really hard on something. Your child did his or her absolute best. Whatever it was they did could be improved. How do you go about suggesting the improved product? Do you tell your child all the things that were wrong and tell your child to make the corrections or do you let your child know how proud you were and say, “I wonder how it would work if you did this or that.”
In the first example, your child might easily hear that you are displeased with all the effort that went into the project. All the child would hear is correction: do it again, make it better. In the second example, the child would hear praise as well as recommendations to get even more praise. If you were that child, which would you rather receive: correction or encouragement?
The example works for children, employees, family members, neighbors, and friends. Let’s face it. The example applies to everyone. None of us want to be “corrected”. That is perceived as a negative experience. We would all rather be encouraged to do our best. Encouragement, to us, most often means that someone cares. They care about us. They care about our work. They care about who we are and what we have done and what we could do. Encouragement is such a positive experience.
The world generally works on the correction system. It tells a person what to do. It hardly ever encourages. Instead, it tells a person that if he or she cannot do what is suggested, someone else could be found.
The Lord doesn’t work like that. He encourages us to do better because He loves us and He lets us know it. He gives us the grace that we need to do better. He walks with us as we do better and draws even more out of us. He sets the tone and is the model of the way to be with others.
When we walk with someone, when we model what could be done, when we appreciate the effort people put into things, we acknowledge them for who they are and value them for who they are. We do not denigrate, we build them up.
We are faced with all sorts of choices each and every day, each and every moment, of our lives. We can correct or encourage. We can do that to others and we can do that to ourselves. When we look at ourselves and demand constant correction without acknowledging the good that is within us, we set ourselves up for failure.
Let’s do better than that. Let’s set ourselves — and others — up for success by acknowledging the good within and encouraging to do even better.
FAITH ACTION: When faced with the choice of correcting someone or encouraging someone, choose to encourage. The end result will be the same but someone’s self-worth will be validated in the process.