I have training and certification as a life coach. Life coaches are taught to empower others who seek them for help with setting and achieving goals or life change. I discovered quickly during my training that “telling” or “suggesting” comes a LOT easier than empowering!
In the book of Hebrews, we are invited to “…consider how we can “spur” or “provoke” one another to love and good deeds.” Growing up with earlier translations of the passage, I thought it meant to provide that little nudge or prod to challenge someone. Do you like it when someone prods you? I sure don’t!
The New Living Translation of Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” I would much rather have someone walk alongside me encouraging or motivating me by asking questions to help me think of more possibilities or ways to grow in love and good deeds. No wonder, I found it challenging to “undo” my earlier understanding of that scripture.
As a faith community, we don’t live out our faith journey alone. We were never meant to! Jesus modeled how to empower one another with the many parables he taught, almost always with questions to cause people to think.
Telling or suggesting often comes from a place of our own ideas and results in our saying “You should…” or “Don’t you think you could?…” Empowering is walking alongside another on their journey, asking questions to enable the person towards deeper self-discovery. Here are a couple of examples and the difference between “suggesting” and “empowering.”
Suggesting: “You should try reading your Bible every morning first thing when you get up. It will help you grow in faith!”
Empowering: “What would help you most in growing your faith?”
Suggesting: “It’s really important to be grateful for both the blessings and the challenges in our lives!”
Empowering: “What are you most grateful for today?”
Suggesting often uses closed sentences or questions that can only be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” Empowering questions are open-ended, requiring thought before answering. Every day we have the opportunity to ask empowering questions to encourage others along their faith journey. I keep working on the practice myself, and discover I too learn more in the process! – Judi Brandow, Communications Specialist