Teach. Demonstrate. Encourage.

Originally Posted on October 23, 2017 by BJ Howell.

Three words that are so simple, yet can have a huge impact. This was my takeaway from this Sunday’s sermon. Teach. Demonstrate. Encourage.  It relates to everything that I do as a counselor/therapist, teacher, foster parent and now as a Christian. It is relationship based.  It’s so simple yet it dawned on me that there are many of us (myself included) who don’t always complete this series or achieve each of the three successfully.

Some of us get stuck in the Teach stage. As parents who want the best for our children, we sometimes shelter them from hardships thinking that we are helping them, yet we are crippling them. At some point they will be on their own to deal with life and because we never allowed them to experience hardship, pain, failure, etc., providing the opportunity for them to learn how to overcome it, they will flounder. We need to understand that sometimes teaching is active… and sometimes it is passive. Per the situation, we need to determine what we are trying to teach, why we are teaching it, whether it is active or passive in nature, if we are we helping, enabling or hindering and then step back and trust the process.

Then there are some of us who are great at teaching but get stuck in the demonstrate area. The space of “do as I say, not as I do”.  We know what the right thing is or the right way to handle something but in the moment, usually because of emotions, we do the exact opposite of what we would teach others to do. This is directly linked to our daily walk.  We need to remember that just because we are in a position of authority or able to teach, guide, or parent, that doesn’t mean we are perfect.  We all have experienced things that can propel us or hold us back.  We all have “stuff”.  It is our job to periodically pull the weeds in our garden. When we see areas of our lives that are not in line with what we are promoting, with who we are in Christ or what we are trying to achieve, it is time to evaluate and correct.

The final piece can easily be the most important piece and the hardest piece. Whether we get the first two right or not, we should be carrying out this last piece.  The bible talks about how we are to encourage and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). However, there are times when we might have the 1st two down, but the individual(s) didn’t do it right, fast enough, or the way we would do it.  We might try to reteach…but with frustration or we tell them they aren’t putting enough effort in, or worse,  we write them off.  We should be encouraging them to try again, to keep practicing or expressing the good things while helping them (in a loving way) to see where they need to work harder or change what they are doing. Per the online dictionary encourage means to: “give support, confidence, or hope to (someone)”, “give support and advice to (someone) so that they will do or continue to do something”, “help or stimulate (an activity, state, or view) to develop”.  Nowhere in there does it say that encouragement happens only in the context of a task that is carried out perfectly. Encouragement happens regardless of whether they were great at it or they did poorly and it takes words and emotions to fully express.  So, we need to make sure our emotions/feelings display love and kindness. Especially when we are stressed, frustrated, angry or exhausted with the task at hand.

Teach, Demonstrate, Encourage.  Such simple instruction, but if done consciously and correctly, it has the power to change lives.

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