Henry Cloud and John Townsend, in their book How People Grow, write:
Confrontation is an important tool to get someone to see his inability to change and to see his need for help. Many people are too soft-hearted; they give encouragement to someone who needs discouragement instead.
To encourage a powerless person to try harder is one of the worst things you could possibly do. The best thing you can do is to discourage him from believing that he can do it on his own.
Sometimes we need to hear and sometimes we need to offer the brutal truth… “you are failing and things aren’t going to change until you get help.”
The idea that “I can get better by myself” has left trail of broken, defeated and discouraged people in its wake.
Sometimes the greatest realization is the one that says, “I’m broken and I can’t bet better by myself.”
To encourage those who are able is both good and necessary.
To discourage those who are not able is also both good and necessary! Discourage them from floundering and failing and encourage them to reach out for help! Help from God and friends!
I’m going to be honest here… I think the church in general could stand a good dose of this teaching.
Artificial enthusiasm and cheap encouragement is harmful. What might prove to be helpful is less flattery and more discouragement – “You can’t do it, but it can be done! Let me help!”