The person shall remain nameless. Suffice it to say that there is a fair amount of contact between the two of us. We see each other rather frequently. The person has the opportunity to observe on at least a weekly basis what I do publicly as a pastor. I certainly don’t need affirmation from this person. But it would most definitely be a nice courtesy. Though there have been a myriad of opportunities to do so, not once has there ever been a word of affirmation directed toward me from my friend. In comparison to other people in my life it is a noticeable deficiency.
Do you know how that is? One small word of affirmation can make or break a day. For that matter, it can make or break a relationship. It really doesn’t take much at all. Even if it’s difficult to say something nice about a person to their face there is always something nice you can say. It is a common courtesy and something that seems to be lacking in much of our world today.
What this personal experience has taught me is that I want to be more affirming to the people around me. I know how it feels to be frequently around someone who seems to refuse to provide any kind of affirmation. I don’t want others to feel that way when they’re around me. There is incredible power in a simple affirmation. So I try my best to do the following things:
- Affirm the people in my profession. An affirmation from a peer is not just a common courtesy. It seems to be the kind of affirmation that holds a bit more weight. I always feel very good when I am affirmed by another pastor. So whenever I hear another pastor preach I try to find something specific about which I can affirm them. Then I say it.
- Affirm my family. It’s so important to affirm those in one’s own family. In the case of children it boosts self-esteem. In the case of a spouse it creates greater trust and intimacy.
- Affirm my friends. Why would anyone want to be friends with someone who never recognizes accomplishments or positive qualities? You can certainly do so publicly. But another way is to send a real piece of first class mail to show how much you appreciate your friendship.
- Affirm those who work with me. Do you want your co-workers to work well with you and for you? Again, a little bit of affirmation goes a long way. I try to find opportunities to compliment my coworkers in front of other people. I want to recognize their fine work in as many ways as possible, as many times as possible.
- Affirm even those who don’t affirm me. There’s no excuse for failing to affirm someone even if they don’t affirm you. The Bible says something about “heaping burning coals” upon someone’s head. But it’s really about raising the level of common courtesy in general. I’ve done it with the person I mentioned at the top of this post, and it feels good to do so.
How do you affirm the people in your life?