Friday, January 29, 2010

Evaluating Encouragement as it Happens - can you tell the difference between those who talk and those who know?

Not much to put down in the text of the post here, because the question is the post. During difficult seasons (I am experiencing my own right now) can you tell the difference between those who understand your struggle, and those who act as thought they understand? Does it make a difference in terms of how much it helps you make it through the tough times? Does a friend offering silence work better than a friend bringing many words when life is at it lowest?

Fortunately I have not had too much of this. My friends have been pretty amazing, and The Gathering is truly like family.

What do you think? What has your experience been?


Shah Afshar said...

For me, this all is a matter of trust. If the one, to whom, I'm pouring my heart out is someone who has won my trust, then he/she can act anyway they want to.

Pastor Phil said...

I'm not sure I agree with you about them acting anyway they want. It is their actions which win trust, and it is by their actions they can also loose it.

Yet, those I trust are far less likely to act in a hurtful manner.

Stephen said...

Bloggers, as is apparently their want, talk a lot. They appear to be “power brokers”, who’s grand mission in life is to set an agenda – usually their own. And while we would like to think otherwise, they may not necessarily, know that much about anything.

Encouragement is often offered within such pages, in the form of anecdotal wisdom; sometimes encouragement is offered in a “sophisticated” way through the posing of questions, though not everyone gets it. Advice may be direct and/or implied for one or more of the assumed audience, which to be relevant, must be founded on reasonable knowledge and/or belief.

Bloggers however, don't necessarily know and/or understand the thinking of that audience who may actually stumble across and read their pages. After-all, assumptions are apparently made aplenty and like seeds, scattered to fall where they may. Of course, intelligent Bloggers would avoid insulting by implication and/or otherwise, any one specific member of an assumed audience, minded that if they do, it is done before the collective intelligence of the wider audience; nor do they follow it with even more idiosyncratic rhetoric. They value feedback especially when indicating audience perceptions, rather than, as some apparently do, impose and/or threaten censorship upon a basis of an assumed personal preference.

So Phil, from "gadfly" to "comforter" while sitting on some kind of fence, you may hit a chord or two, but not necessarily with everyone within that wider audience of yours. Not everyone cares and/or may be minded to listen or indeed, bothered to actually think things through.

In my view, if one wants a "trusted" friend to understand one’s “struggles” “through the tough times” to somehow solicit from them some helpful conduct towards you; you first need to privately spell it out and not leave them guessing while giving them opportunity to privately think it through. We reap what we sow, so in amongst all that chatter, if your friend, instead offers you silence, what might that be telling you?

Jarred said...

As someone who is currently going through a hard time, I find myself more appreciative of those who spend most of their time listening rather than offering encouragement or advice. (In fact, the offering of advice is possibly the last thing I need or want right now.) I'm most grateful to those people who are willing to simply affirm my expressions of sadness, hurt, anger, and frustration over an awful situation.

Pastor Phil said...


I am not referencing comfort within the blog community specifically, but comfort in general. As such it is simply a discussion point presented for consideration. Not a place/time for private matters, or even references to private things. It is just "thinking out loud" and as such is a kind of diary like Augustine's Confession, or Patrick's Apology.

Pastor Phil said...


I'm trackin' with you. There are some voices which offer deep value, but they tend to speak between the lines of silence.

Stephen said...

I certainly agree with you; private matters are best kept private, shared only with a few trusted friends who are very good and long suffering listeners who know how to keep their counsel. To qualify as such a friend it's so important to be found unwilling to pass judgement and committed to remaining one's friend, no matter what.