What an great honor to be a person of influence, a leader, but with that privilege also comes responsibility. Part of that responsibility is to “LEARN TO AFFIRM.” It seems that I remember a man called Peter, and you know him as well. John 1:41-43 says, “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter which means Rock) Jesus saw within him something that he was not, but was to become. It is a joy to be in a position to call out the best and to affirm that which is good in others. Yes! It propels those who God has given us influence with to go beyond what they could ever expect. It is a continious prayer of my own that the people who God has entrusted me with to lead, would do more than I have ever done and influence more lives than I have ever influenced.
When I was a pre-teen, my mother noticed that I could swim well and she continued to compliment and affirm the gifting in me concerning swimming. When I reached the old age of 14, she decided that she would not only brag on me, but equip me to do something with what I seemed to have a gift for. Immediately she researched on what I could do with such a gift. She found that there was a YMCA about 45 miles away from our very small so-called town, and enrolled me in the next lifeguard training school. She lied about my age because I was too young to enter the class but she was sure that I would be such a success that age would not matter. I am not encouraging being deceptive, but you get the point. Anyway, I passed the physical training and the academic testing with flying colors! I believe that my success was because someone believed in me, affirmed me with words and with actions. This is an example of many positive things that my parents have called out in me over several years, but even greater than what I was able to achieve, was the lesson I learned in believing in others. It begins in our homes and with our families, then to others throughout our workplace and our ministries.
Affirmation can be learned and practiced even if you feel it is not your personality to be so verbal about the things you see. You can write notes, send cards and even use e-mail to call out the best in others. How do you see the best? Start with the little things like, “I love the way you helped that old gentlemen through the door.” Another example may be, “You are so good with making people feel comfortable around you.” Begin to ask God for insight and revelation for the people around you. You will have so much fun watching people respond to positive feedback from you. When you begin to love people in this way, it becomes addictive and it is not flattery. Afterall, God is the same way with us if we just listen. He is our biggest cheerleader, and we don’t have to depend on people, parents, friends or coworkers to affirm us. If we just listen, we can hear him cheering us on. Note: It is important to be truthful about the positive things you say about others, otherwise it is flattery and that is unproductive. Love someone today by expressing to them something positive you see, and you will find yourself becoming a more influential person and a better leader.
Read next month’s article called,
“Confrontation – The Life-Giving Way”
5 Practical Tips is “LEARNING TO AFFIRM”
1. Identify – Take time to think about someone and decide what you appreciate about them.
2. Specify – No generalizations, be to the point.
3. Qualify – Communicate how they have made an impact in your life.
5. Be Generous – Never take credit for things that you can give away. (Take every opportunity to relenquish or the reward to someone else.)
*Don’t forget to exercise this with family first! We have not been successful in anything if we have not been successful at home!
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