Few social gestures say, “You can,” like turning someone down from help. The message isn’t always received, but there are fixes for that. If you need to, say it outright, “I’m not going to help you because that would imply that you can’t do it on your own. You can do this. I did it under similar circumstances,” and make sure your statement is true.
To be hardy at the right time you must have been through hard times. You are only able to encourage people who go through hard times as easy as your most difficult times. If you’re serious about life and want to be an encouragement, hard times are coming. But, that’s okay. You’ll get through them. I did.
The social implication of Jesus’s crucifixion says it all. He doesn’t only “try” to understand—though sympathy is virtuous—but he truly empathizes with our levels of difficulty. He saw the demons, angels, sin, wisdom, folly, and disease, yet he was perfect, ridiculed, loved, and ultimately crucified. His patience alone (not yet considering the beating and crucifixion) needed to endure such a wide distance between his own perfection and the wickedness of his enemies. That earned Jesus first place in the competition of “who has been through harder times” (which every human secretly yearns to compete for).
Since Jesus went through worse, I can finish today.
Don’t insult or spew degrading words. Don’t be cynical and describe only the air in the glass. Just say, “Oh, you’ve got enough water in the glass to get through this.” If someone needs help, give just enough so that they can still claim their own victory.
Don’t do everything for children, students, or subordinates, lest they never learn to do things on their own. Doing something correctly requires doing it oneself. Coaching requires patience. Failing strengthens muscles, which empower capability. When a toddler falls on the floor, best to act like nothing happened. Babies are born with extra padding and adults to make sure they don’t fall down the stairs.
In America’s version of chivalry, hardiness was the vital virtue long forgotten for the new obsession with pretentious piety. We badly need a resurgence of hardiness.
Job 2:11, 2 Kings 2:2, Proverbs 14:4; 18:24; 24:5; 27:5-6, John 16:33, Philippians 3:10-11; 4:13