Shame, Encouragement, and Goals

shame or encouragement cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward


I read about a pastor who posed as a poor houseless person. He came to his new church on his first Sunday like that. The elders were coached beforehand to mistreat him and sit him in the back. Instead of giving money, clothes or food, they gave dirty looks. After the new pastor was introduced, the disheveled looking pastor walked up to the pulpit to the dismay of the 10,000 member church. He then berated them and read these words to the humiliated people:

"Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?"

This story and the fact that so many people loved it deeply saddened me. So I searched for its source. It didn’t happen. It’s fiction.

But it proved something. Churches employ shame to manipulate people and many people love it.

What if the pastor prepped the elders to act nicely to the man? What if they gave him money, sat him with others who spoke kindly to him, and invited him to stay for the potluck after? I bet you everyone would have rallied and helped him out.

This pastor knows that if he waits long enough he can prove we’re selfish.
I wish he also knew that if he waits long enough he can prove we’re generous.

If our lesser angels are appealed to... our capacity for fear and selfishness... we may act on those. 

But when our greater angels are appealed to... our capacity for compassion... we can act on those.

When you encourage people you help them reach their goals.
When you shame people they help you reach yours.

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