Wise people profoundly understand the difference between flattery and encouragement. It is perilous to mistake one for the other. Whereas flattery seeks to quickly buy influence, encouragement works to slowly build trust.
Unfortunately, many people succumb to the charms of flattery’s fleeting vice before finally realising they’ve been duped. It poses as a loyal friend and lavishes you with over the top gestures. But as it feeds your insecurities and tells you what it thinks you want to hear, it’s hollow grandstanding is a cynical distraction while it takes advantage, pursuing it’s own selfish agenda (whatever that might be).
Flattery is the fake imitation of encouragement. It has no interest in anything other than itself. If your heart can be easily flattered, then your life will be easily shattered. So it is better to clearly identify it for what it is so you don’t waste years picking up the pitiful pieces of relational carnage it always causes. You see, behind flattery’s false exterior lies a cold, calculating & uncaring heart which gets it’s kicks from trading people against each other.
Encouragement is so very different. It is genuinely caring and authentically loving, not issuing empty words which it thinks you’d like to hear – but journeying with you over the long haul, helping you become the best you can possibly be. It is not driven by any need to appear popular either, but instead is willing to engage in the tough conversations which challenge you to get better. There’s an honesty and specificity with encouragement that sees potential in people which they often don’t see themselves. It follows this up with love, care and commitment, investing it’s time in championing others.
Encouragement’s most telling characteristic is it’s track record. It has a history of faithfulness whereas flattery has a habit of fickleness. It’s always wise to carefully observe this.
In a world of discouragement, one of the best things you can possibly do is to get yourself planted in an environment of real encouragement. That’s why healthy local church culture really matters. If any community in the world should be building genuine trust, it’s God’s house. For all our imperfections, this is what we’re passionate about creating at the Junction Church in Loughborough and Leicester. We do real, not fake. We do encouragement, not flattery.