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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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.