Posted by: William | February 26, 2008

Encouragement

For a book titled Encouragement, I’ve actually found myself kind of discouraged. Now, I ought to clarify that. It’s probably, at least partly, a good discouragement. I’ll elaborate.

Dr. Crabb’s book is basically a beginner level counseling book. He speaks, almost medically, about people’s tendencies, thoughts, feelings, fears, etc. This alone, I don’t think would be terribly useful. However, Dr. Crabb builds relatively well on top of biblical foundation (albeit stretching things sometimes) which allows him to speak with more authority.

While I didn’t agree with everything Dr. Crabb had to say, I completely agree with the overall theme of the book, which is simply this: Rely only on God for everything, and on all occasions hold others above yourself. A pretty simple and elementary message, as some would say, but Dr. Crabb tenderly builds a subtext that clearly reveals the rarity with which we actually practice that message.

Encouragement spends the first twelve chapters dealing with the heart and motive of the encourager and only in the last two chapters does Dr. Crabb move onto encouraging others. He argues (well) that encouragement requires that the encourager’s heart be right in his words and actions. He delves deeply into people’s thoughts and motives behind why they speak and what they choose to speak and how they choose to speak it. The discussion is done with a level of care and intimacy that will almost certainly hit home with the reader.

There were some things that I disagreed with, although they may really just be contextual grievances. I think that Dr. Crabb failed to take into account the varying degrees of relationships. There are clearly times to go to close friends or wives about troubles and pains in life; that wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, and in many cases could likely be encouraging to the other person. However, Dr. Crabb paints a picture of encouragement that makes it sound like encouragers are not ever to voluntarily open up themselves and their grief to another person—barring the circumstance that the other person comes looking for it. It was this that caused me to find myself walking the line of discouragement. However, that point seems to be made, inadvertently, between the lines and I doubt Dr. Crabb would actually say that outright.

Ultimately, this book caused a great deal of introspection in me. It forced a serious evaluation of my thoughts and motives and actions. With time and prayer, I hope that the concepts in this book will bear fruit in my relationships with God and people.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to the casual reader. I could easily see it becoming confusing or even an undue pressure and discouragement if misunderstood. However, anyone able and willing to approach the book, at least kind of academically, will probably find a lot to learn here.

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