We don’t do a good enough job of affirming people. I’m talking about in our own families, among friends, in our workplaces, and in ministry. Often, it’s easier to find faults in others and judge others than it is to say something nice about them.
This is especially true in certain situations. Take sports for example. Many athletes use trash-talking to try to get into their opponents’ heads. The thinking is that it might throw your opponent off, giving you an advantage. Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, and even Sidney Crosby are known to be good trash-talkers.
Another example is Twitter. Twitter exchanges often disintegrate into insults and a game of “who can get the last word in”. It’s easy to hide behind a keyboard and 140 character statements.
I see it in my own life. At home, I do my best to affirm Gail and the kids as much as I can, especially on nights where my time with them is limited. Admittedly, I’m not always the best at affirming them but I certainly understand the importance of it, particularly for Jake and Kayla.
Sometimes I’ll give them an “affirmation sandwich” and sneak something (whether it be a teachable moment, sarcastic remark, or reprimand) in between a couple of affirmations. Obviously, I want them to hear more positive things than constructive things.
Within ministry, it’s one of my favourite topics to talk about. As Church, we simply don’t affirm each other frequently enough. We sometimes get so caught up in what we need to do (ie. making sure we’re getting numbers to our events, preparing our next talk, or practicing our next skit) that we don’t affirm, encourage, and thank each other.
I like to say that youth ministers and leaders are “ordinary people in the hands of an extraordinary God”. I feel that my role is to be their cheerleader, advocate, encourager, and affirmer.
Appreciation doesn’t have to be in the form of a fancy dinner or elaborate gifts. Rather, a heartfelt and genuine thank you will suffice. It can be done privately or publicly.
As long as it gets done.
That’s why I’ve embarked on my #dailyaffirmation initiative on Facebook. Every day for 2015, I will affirm an individual, couple, or family. I will point out certain traits and try to nuance an inside joke or memorable encounter. Most importantly, I will thank people for the impact they’ve had on me and on others.
It won’t necessarily be my 365 closest friends. In fact, I think one of the blessings of this initiative will be the opportunity to affirm people who I might not be that close to or who aren’t expecting it. I will affirm people from different areas in my life: family members, friends, past school-mates, co-workers, ministry leaders, fellow Canucks bloggers, and others.
Exclusion from being mentioned certainly isn’t an indication of…well…anything really; other than the fact that I have limited days and I like to pretend I know a lot of people.
And there is no particular order. Well, except for the first one. If I had affirmed anyone else than my lovely wife Gail on January 1st I would have likely been looking for somewhere to sleep to start off the new year haha.
My prayer is that these affirmations will encourage people to keep on doing what they are doing. That they will recognize that they are indeed making a difference in people’s lives. That the things they do and say are noticed.
As Christian rapper Lecrae said while accepting the GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song:
“You can’t celebrate gifts without celebrating the giver of all gifts.”
So I’m ready to publicly celebrate and recognize the gifts of people in my life. And in doing so, I also give glory and praise to God, who is the ultimate giver.
After all, God is never outdone in generosity.