Who wants to be labeled an enabler? This term carries extremely negative connotations: those close to an alcoholic who not only allow negative behaviors but unknowingly encourage them; the parents of a 27 year old who is fully capable of working and supporting himself but is instead living in their basement playing video games all day; a parent who actually rewards their child's temper tantrum by buying that candy bar in the supermarket aisle.
For most of us, this is what it means to be an enabler. And who wants to be known as someone who enables negative behavior? Why would we want to encourage someone in a direction only to have them go off the deep-end, passing into the abyss of failure, addiction, or even insanity, while we stand by allowing them to continue in their negative patterns?
So whenever we see someone stepping out in a way that seems unsustainable or slightly inappropriate, we are quick to discourage what we consider dangerous. If a guy in high school wants to start an outreach to unwed mothers we fear inappropriate relationships and recommend that he find a less ambitious way to reach out in the community. If a 21 year old is passionate about art and wants to pursue further education in that field we warn them about the difficulties there and discourage them from taking that step. If a 30 year old father is considering leaving behind career and stability in order to pursue schooling and full-time ministry we suggest that they wait til their children graduate from high school and their finances are more secure. If a 12 year old imagines the possibilities of starting a business by buying and selling used electronics among their friends we discourage them because of the inherent relational and legal problems.
Danger is discouraged, risk is avoided, and passion is extinguished. And then we wonder why our culture is complacent and coddled. We wonder why no one stands up for what they believe. We wonder why we've raised a generation without an entrepreneurial, inventive, or leading spirit.
Recently I remembered an idea I had in my teens that is still a passion in my heart. It was shot down by someone in authority who probably doesn't even remember or think anything of it. Now I find myself in a position of authority but not pursuing what I believed to be God given desires and goals. Why is it that now that I have the ability to call the shots and turn the ship I continue to head in directions that I questioned 5-7 years ago? Because I hear those voices in my head, I hear the voices of discouragement, doubt, and fear.
So I've decided something: I don't want that to be my voice in someone else's head 5-7 years from now. All passion has inherent danger. If you encourage people to listen to God's voice and follow they may try to sacrifice their son on an altar (Genesis 22). They may marry a woman who is carrying someone else's child (Matthew 1) or worse yet they might marry a whore (Hosea 1). They may lay on their left side for 390 days without moving only to turn over to their right side for another 40 days (Ezekiel 4).
I want to be a voice of reason. I want to be discerning. I want to be wise. But at the end of the day, if someone comes to me with an idea, I don't want them to leave having heard, "You couldn't possibly do that", rather, I hope that they leave hearing, "That sounds dangerous, that sounds difficult, but if you really believe that's what God is calling you to then let me walk along beside you."
I want to be an enabler.