Don't Mix This One Up
By Ben McGuire
My dad coached almost every team I played on. But baseball was my main sport.
As a dad-coach, he had to live within the tension of wanting his son to do well and still know how proud he was (like the time I hit my first homerun). He also had to correct my mistakes, sit me on the bench, motivate me, and put his arm around me when I failed. Like when I blew the lead as a pitcher and we lost.
I needed both in my life: coach to develop me, cheerleader to encourage me—but in the proper measures and ways.
Now as a spouse, I have to play both those roles and determine which is needed.
The Apostle Paul talks about this kind of discernment. “We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
“Idle” is elsewhere translated as “unruly” (NASB, KJV) or “lazy” (NLT). In other words, Paul is identifying those willfully neglecting responsibilities—an issue we all struggle with.
You or your spouse will sometimes be idle and need to be admonished, or be fainthearted and need to be encouraged. But it would be unwise to admonish the fainthearted or help the idle.
Admonishing your spouse may be uncomfortable, especially if they resist for the wrong reasons. Encouraging them may feel unnatural, especially if you have a hard time expressing your feelings.
There are times when my wife has to help me see that what I need most is a coach, not a cheerleader. There are times when fear and apathy hold me back from stepping in to help or encourage her.
Knowing when to be a coach and when to be a cheerleader takes wisdom, sometimes courage, and above all, patience and love.
The Good Stuff: And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Action Points: Consider how you can more wisely come alongside your spouse to appropriately admonish, encourage, and help. Ask for forgiveness for the ways you have been unwise or hurtful. Pray for love and patience toward your spouse.
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