Leading with an encouraging heart is not the same as cheerleading. In high school, I remember how badly I felt when the cheerleading squad were yelling about destroying our opponents, and the scoreboard showed the other basketball team was ahead by 30 with one minute left.
Effective encouragement cannot be delusional—it must be rooted in reality, even if that reality is shaped by faith-filled possibility. You can lose a battle without losing the war, and you can lose without being defeated. Sometimes encouragement takes the form of empathy with tough circumstances.
Have you ever cheered a lost cause?
How do you handle real setbacks?
Notice Paul’s realism about his own suffering and that of the Roman Church.