To be affirmed – Man, it feels so great when someone says to you, “Good job!” “Great work!” “Way to go!” When people say to you how wonderful it was, or what you did. When they even say, “Thank you,” it helps so much. It just means that someone noticed. We all desire to be affirmed, and to believe that someone approves of who we are and what we’re doing. Let me just give you an example of the opposite.
I have a friend in ministry who has such a hard time dealing with proving himself. When he starts trying to prove himself, he’s fishing for affirmation. It’s not a pretty thing. If you’re fishing for affirmation, it’s not good. I wish that you could have the affirmation that you need in order to move forward because affirmation really helps us to have those, “wings to fly” moments, to risk more, to be able to do more. You can think back in your own life of people who affirmed you; people who noticed, and they said, “You sing so pretty. I love the way you dance. You play that instrument so great. You always make me smile.” Whatever it may be, they affirmed you. The truth is, they were such a positive influence on you.
The opposite would be criticism or belittling. When someone criticizes you, it shuts you down. Then you start doing a look inside, “What’s wrong with me? How am I messing up? What’s going on?” The lack of affirmation has a tendency to do that too.
So, I’m meeting with my friend and he is going through a lack of affirmation, so he starts proving himself, trying to toot his own horn, or whatever. There’s a time to do that, but it’s not everything. He is angry at his pastor because his pastor won’t say to him, “You’re doing a good job.” He’s angry at his other colleagues because they won’t notice who he is or that he has value. Even though they do value him, they do think that he is doing a great job, not hearing it really makes you start pulling back. That’s a real problem. I don’t know if you’re that person. Maybe you are that minister, or that teacher, that has not been noticed. It hurts, because you need affirmation.
How do we get around on the other side of that? How can we become a person who is giving affirmation, a person who is building people up? The truth is, your workers need to hear you say affirming words. They need to hear you say, “Good job. The way that you planned that activity, that was awesome! I took a picture of the things your kids made because they’re so great! I’m putting those things on Facebook. I want people to see.” When you’re affirming people, you’re valuing them. You’re giving them real staying power, to be in there doing a good job.
When people don’t hear that you like what they’re doing, when they don’t hear any affirmation, they feel like maybe it’s not worth it and they’ll just quit. By the way, let me just say, men are very much in need of affirmation. You ask a man to come and be a part of your ministry as a teacher, and then don’t give him any feedback, he’s not going to stay. He wants some feedback. If it’s from his co-teachers, if it’s from you – he wants to do well. He wants to give it his best. We’re used to being coached. You know, when someone says, “No, don’t throw it like that. Throw it like this. It’s so much better if you do it like this.” The truth is, women want to know that as well, because your input in their life is going to compliment them. It’s going to give them the wings they need to go farther.
Affirmation starts when we’re very young. Actually, the people who are affirming children represent God’s love to them, acceptance, speaking into their life, of approving of them. When you say to children, “What a good job that is! I’m so glad you’re in my class. I love the way that you helped me today.” All of those things are going to be saying how valuable they are, and you shouldn’t be surprised as a teacher that you would be in Big Church, and you would have a child come and find you, and hug you, and want to shake your hand during the welcome songs, because they love you. Your affirmation and approval toward them has spoken into their lives in a huge way. Not just saying their name – definitely say their name – but tell them what you like. What you approve of, and also be telling your teachers.
You want a staff who is affirmed. You want volunteers who are affirmed, and they will reciprocate that as they affirm you. Affirmations – this is a good day to start being more mindful, and giving them out. They don’t cost you anything, and watch how much closer people will become. Close to you, because you’re giving affirmation. I hope that you will.