A Better Encouragement: Trading Self-Help for True Hope – Lindsey Carlson

A Better Encouragement: Trading Self-Help for True Hope by Lindsey Carlson
Published by Crossway on June 7, 2022
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Theology
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Drop the Self-Help and Look to God Who Speaks a Better Word
Women thrive on encouragement, connection, and support. And yet, this desire leads many to be culturally catechized by a multibillion dollar self-help industry. Because foolish motivational messages flow freely from the world like a dripping faucet and are repeated by the person in the mirror, women remain discouraged, disconnected, and alone. If women believe happiness and success are their responsibility, they will assume discouragement must be too.
Women need better news. In this hope-filled book, Lindsey Carlson leads weak and weary women to the well to find better refreshment in the living water of Christ, who speaks a better word of encouragement than the world. As women are connected to God's promises and God's people, they will be better encouraged to endure with their hope fixed on Christ.
Hope for Women Bruised by Self-Help: Written for discouraged Christian women who need better encouragement they can't provide themselves, but who are hesitant to trust good encouragement exists
Practical and Approachable: Offers relatable stories and counsel to teach women how to biblically discern truth from worldly philosophy in messages of encouragement and to provide confident assurance in God's promises of power, strength, comfort, and hope
For the Building Up of the Church: Challenges Christians to become better encouragers within their family, the local church, and their communities

Throughout this book, Lindsey Carlson emphasizes how important it is for women to feel encouraged in genuine, meaningful ways. She contends that Christian women are often at a loss for how to encourage themselves and others, since the shallow platitudes and worldly self-help messages they are most familiar with are poor substitutes for encouragement in the gospel. She writes about why encouragement is so important, how the Bible models encouragement, and how encouragement can help strengthen and comfort people. Although her illustrative examples and focus are gender-specific, there is enough straight biblical study in A Better Encouragement that men can also find it helpful and apply it to their own contexts.

Carlson shares vulnerable personal stories about struggles she has dealt with, and she urges her readers to invest in a healthy church community where they can be honest about their struggles, receive the help that they need, and encourage others. She also provides ideas and resources for how women can build a stronger culture of encouragement in their churches, and includes an extremely clear, helpful note for people struggling with depression and other forms of mental illness. However, this book is best for Christian women who already have deep biblical and theological knowledge.

Based on this book’s title, I hoped that the author would speak to readers with nonexistent or nominal faith who are burnt out on self-help books and are looking for a new perspective. A Better Encouragement can help Christian women process their own struggles and know how to minister to others, but readers without biblical literacy or spiritual experiences are unlikely to understand or connect with it. I wish that Carlson had constructed this as both an outreach book and a tool to equip people within the church, but it is mainly just the latter.