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Challenge Takes Encouragement To The Next Level

By Doug Franklin August 17, 2016

We live in a culture that thinks encouragement will solve developmental self-esteem issues. If we just tell students enough that they are awesome, then they will be awesome. This approach kind of works; many students do grow up to think they are awesome. The truth is they haven’t done the hard work to be awesome. So while they feel good about themselves, they have not been tried and tested. When hardship comes, they ultimately will fail and not know why.

The reality is that we are not offering our students encouragement; we are actually giving them false praise. I love encouraging students. I love pointing out to them how I see God working in and through their lives, but I think mixing challenge with the right kind of encouragement will actually bring students to their fullest potential. Challenge take the encouragement further. Challenging a student is not as easy as encouragement because when you challenge, you need to point out an area where potential is missed. A student who is not used to being challenged will respond like a child and quit or claim abuse, thus setting them up for bigger failure in the future.

As false praise becomes the standard, challenging gets hard. I honestly think praising students is in because adults are afraid to challenge. We have lost our will to make students great. We are weak ourselves, and we produce an even weaker generation. There is a cost to our weakness, and that cost is students who have little fortitude to be disciples of Christ. Jesus said that if we follow him we will face hardship and trouble. Carrying a cross is never easy.

Challenging students’ potential is an art, especially in this generation. It requires building trust. You have to show students that you are different, not like other adults who give them a free pass, but instead will call them to a higher standard of truth and accomplishment. There will also be a price to pay for this action. They may call you mean and say you don’t like students, but the truth will be that you love students much more than those that give them shallow and fake encouragement.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More