Praise the Good

Transforming Teenagers—Part 9

This is part nine of this article. Please click here to read part one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, or eight.

When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. 2 Timothy 1:5

Timothy had his character flaws, as we all do. His happened to be timidity. Unlike his mentor Paul, Timothy tended to shrink from controversy and sometimes even grew ashamed of the Gospel itself. As any good mentor would do, Paul addressed this character flaw head on. In fact, the first two chapters of 2 Timothy revolve around the theme of “not ashamed.” (Check it out for yourself.)

Different from many modern toxic leadership styles, Paul tempered his rebuke of Timothy’s behavior with some legitimate praise for his genuine walk with God. Let’s face it, we’ve all had people in our lives for whom even our best efforts were not satisfactory. Although these people can possess the very best of motives (i.e., that they are merely trying to make us better), their over-exacting expectations accomplish just the opposite, and we’re left with a “Why even try?” attitude.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that we lower our expectations or submerge our teens in the lukewarm tank of nothing but positive thoughts. What I am saying is that healthy crops grow in soil that has been weeded and fertilized. Picture pulling weeds as rebuke; envision fertilizing as praise.

Timothy had some issues, for sure, but he was a young man with an unfeigned faith. He was real. Untainted by the epidemic hypocrisy that characterized the religious leadership of the day, Timothy was sincere and genuine. Paul recognized that great quality and, before he ever dealt with the necessary rebuke, praised Timothy for exemplifying such bona fide faith.

Someone once said that gossip is saying something behind a person’s back that you wouldn’t say to his face. By contrast, flattery is saying something to someone’s face that you would not say behind his back! Unlike these unwise communications, the biblical approach involves lovingly confronting others with the bad and the good.

Who is it this very day that needs to hear some words of affirmation from you? Think for a moment about some stellar quality in that particular teenager. Now go tell him. He will be encouraged by your words and will determine to continue forward in that good character habit. Who knows? He might listen again when the next conversation isn’t so positive.

This part nine of this article. Please click here to read part ten.

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