Tuesday, November 10, 2020

On Abandoning Our Performance-Based Lenses

'It is helpful to recognize the distinction between appreciation and affirmation.  We appreciate what a person does, but we affirm who a person is.  Appreciation comes and goes because it is usually related to something someone accomplishes.

Affirmation goes deeper.  It is directed to the person himself or herself.  While encouragement would encompass both, the rare of the two is affirmation.'

- Chuck Swindoll -

If you're in an emotionally healthy place, you probably find it fairly easy to hand out compliments to others ... a quick 'good job!,' a kind word of commendation, a brief pat on the back, a cheerful 'atta girl!'  

This is all well and good, but if this is as far as we are able to venture in the call to build each other up {1 Thessalonians 5:11}, perhaps we are viewing each other through performance-based lenses.

For in neglecting to speak substantial life-giving words that recognize and affirm who the person truly is deep within by God's grace, we might unwittingly contribute to their doubts about who they are when no one's looking.  

Who am I when I'm not out and about hustling, producing, serving, performing, manufacturing, accomplishing?  

And that can leave the weary, exhausted soul feeling 'less than,' worthless, useless when not churning out something big and grand and oh so noticeable.  Or impact a growing child, perhaps nudging a tender youngster or teen toward seeing themselves not as a healthy human being, but a rather off-kilter 'human doing.'

As we release our need to promote ourselves or applaud our own meager accomplishments, we have more focused energy to invest in this life-altering ministry of building one another up {Hebrews 10:24}.  There's an art to offering true encouragement, developing the rare gift of looking past outward busyness, gazing soul deep, inviting God to guide us in developing a discernment that shows itself in refreshing words of affirmation and blessing that go to the core of who someone is in Jesus Christ.  

This, the gift to be joyfully free-er to focus on others, to generously name the ways that we see fruit of the Spirit at work in their lives, to applaud godly attributes that breathe life and love, to build up those character qualities that speak volumes about who a person is becoming because the Lord is at work.

Over and over, God tells us in His Word who we are in Him.  What a blessed opportunity, what an incredible impact when we partner with our Creator in actively affirming others.  What a stunning testimony to a world shot through with shallow negativity, disrespectful attitudes, endless self-promotion, and harsh words.

'A person's words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook' - Proverbs 18:4.


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visiting with Jeanne & Lisa


As an Amazon associate I may receive a very small financial compensation when you use the above link to Chuck Swindoll's book, Bedtime Blessings: 365 Days of Inspirational Thoughts.


  1. Linda, just wanted to share this really neat acronym description for LENS which I heard recently from "Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power" by Levi Lusko
    Acronym for LENS:
    2 Cor 4:16-18
    16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
    Paul is telling us at all time, there are things happen we can see, and things we cannot see.
    The secret to not giving up, is staring and care more for the things you can’t see, and glancing at the thing we can see.
    Your Spirit gets stronger the longer you walk with Jesus.
    You can’t see what is there, you have to see what God says is there.
    Gaze at God, and then glance at life.
    Dare the devil to scare you when you are loaded up with God, and know YOUR story.
    Whatever the devil hands you, you have to load up on God’s word.
    Rom 8:19
    19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
    We encounter difficulty, we should jump up, because God has a plan, He is still good and He is up to something.
    Suffering is an opportunity for you to be used by God.
    God doesn’t cause evil, but He is in control of it.
    Some stuff is horrible at the moment, but God has the ability to accomplish good for it.
    God is going to make the devil pay for everything he was stupid enough to do in your life.
    He give the most difficult assignments to His most trusted soul.
    Learn to look at the normal in your life in new ways.
    Your mission field is the next person you meet!
    God calls people to step out, but He mostly calls people to stay put. Reach the cubical next to YOU.
    There are people in our nation who are headed to hell, who need God badly.
    Saturday is the day, before Jesus comes again on Sunday.
    Saturday is tough, when it is easy to lose heart.
    Sunday is not an end, it’s HIM.

    Many blessings to you,
    Beth Willis Miller

    1. Beth, it's so good to see you again! Thanks for sharing such valuable Scriptural insights with us ...

  2. It should be our heart's goal to view others and children of God, affirmed and loved by Him. May our encouraging words be about who others are, not what they do.
    Such inspiring thoughts today, Linda! Blessings!

    1. It's like taking encouragement to the next level. The heart level. Love that!

  3. I love to encourage others; but after reading your post, I see I have some affirming work to do.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. We're all growing in this aren't we, Jerralea.

      Welcome back! I hope you are feeling stronger with each new day ...

  4. The timing of this couldn't have been better, Linda. Earlier today someone I'm close to sent me an email from their regional director (leader in a religious non-profit) that said: "In doing what we ought we deserve no praise, because it is our duty." I've sent your affirming words to hopefully help them feel encouraged and share that with others. Thank you, thank you! I needed this reminder too (we can be hardest on ourselves) ♡

    1. You're so right, we are often our own harshest taskmasters, Debby. I'm glad you found something worth sharing here today. If we ever needed to encourage our spiritual leaders, it'd be right about now.

  5. Good words here, Linda. I struggle so much with performance, which really affects my relationship with God. I always feel like I'm not enough, and in fact I never will be enough, because HE is enough and I don't have to be! Thank you!!

    1. Your words are powerful, Donna ... and the key to our peace of mind and spiritual growth! May our useless strivings cease, may we know we are beloved to Him.


  6. Swindoll’s quote is refreshingly so true. Thank you for this glimpse at what we need to be genuinely affirmed and affirm others.

    “Who am I when I'm not out and about hustling, producing, serving, performing, manufacturing, accomplishing?” This has been a hard thing for me as I age and then struggle with health issues. Those two things make me feel unsure, sometimes, of God’s love and my worthiness.

    I truly need to sit at Jesus’ feet as often as possible because he is the Almighty Affirmer.

    I also love what Beth said: “Dare the devil to scare you when you are loaded up with God, and know YOUR story.” Ahhhhh sitting with Jesus brings my story to lights nd seen through His eyes

    1. Carol, hi! You bring up a challenge that many of us wrestle with if we've been super active in ministry and now feel a bit sidelined because of personal / family / health issues ... or those situations where the local church may not quite know what to do with what we have to offer.

      Praise God He finds us delightful and worthy just as we are. To sit at Jesus' feet in this season is such a peaceful respite after all the years of endlessly pouring out.

  7. Great article!!!  =)

    (via email)

  8. This is a great post, Linda! I have definitely felt the pressure to perform when the encouragement I've received has all been about what I do, and it can be a challenge to remember that's not how God sees it. It challenges me to think about how I can encourage others on a deeper level too.

    1. You're right, Lesley. And in this blogging / social media world it really does sneak in, doesn't it ...

  9. Now that I'm going under,
    and soon about to die,
    I guess I have to wonder:
    who the heck was I?
    Failure's been my lot in life,
    my ways were really flawed;
    failed my dogs, failed my wife,
    and disappointed God.
    He blessed me with some talents
    that I turned into skills;
    on the way I lost my balance;
    no rationaization fills
    the feeling of profound chagrin,
    knowing what I might have been.

    1. Regrets are common and yes, we need to acknowledge them and confess them and release them, one by one, as the Spirit nudges us to do so.

      And as we free ourselves of all our sin and stuff and shame and missed opportunities, we can celebrate what God is doing in us and through us right now.

      Re-focus, friend, on the difference you're making across the globe right now.
      Bless you in the process ...

  10. This has given me pause to be more affirming to my grandchildren. I find myself saying I'm proud of what the 'do' rather than who they are! Even with good intentions, I can fall into the world definition of success of performance. Thank you for this Linda!

    1. Absolutely, Lynn! Along the way I've been more purposely trying to think deeper as I interact and focus on what God is doing on the inside of them, not just all the outward fun and activity that it's natural to commend them on!

      We're in this together, Grandma!

  11. Love this post Linda. One of my gifts is encouraging others but can I tell you a little secret...sometimes the encourager needs encouragement too. So glad we have God's precious Word to encourage us. I love Proverbs 18:4. Oh our words....can do so much good and so much bad. May my words be pleasing to the Lord and life giving. I enjoyed this post so much today. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

    1. Your secret is spot on, Cindy. I'm thinking that often we give to others what we're craving to receive.

      But when all is said and done, all the encouragement doesn't touch that depth of our souls. Only Jesus!

  12. Good words Linda. I sure needed to read this today.