Through a dietary experience, I learned an important lesson on the difference between encouragement and persuasion.
One of our daughters had referred us to a nutritionist that had helped her dramatically when no medical doctor could find the cause of her severe pain. I decided to take Shon to that nutritionist. We listened, and I encouraged Shon to give it a try and said I’d do it along with him. The first step was a Candida cleanse diet which is very strict. I was proud of how well Shon was doing, but I noticed a marked contrast between his experience and mine. I was experiencing supernatural self-control and joy, while Shon, though doing well, needed continual encouragement, since he was feeling overwhelmed and burdened, and thus complained often. His complaints were wearing me down.
After a few weeks, during one of my quiet times with the Lord, the answer came to me. I realized that I had been guilty of imposing the diet on Shon. It had not been his prayerful decision. So, I called him, shared my revelation, and said he could pray and decide whether or not to continue, and to what degree, if he did. Both of us felt like a huge burden had been lifted off our shoulders!
Out of that experience, I was reminded that there’s a big difference between persuading and encouraging. Persuasion is when we try to get someone to agree with us. Encouragement is when we come alongside someone and encourage them in their decisions. (Exception: If their decisions go against our conscience, we can just pray for them.)
Jesus said, “…my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:30) If He has called us to something, He will empower us. If we’re trying to do something in our own strength, even if we’re successful, it will most likely feel like a burden if it is not something we naturally enjoy.
Therefore, in the future, when I introduce an idea to someone, I will simply suggest that they pray about it and make their own decision. If they ask for my help or opinion, I will give it. But the decision will be theirs!