Affirming Others

  • July 26, 2011
  • #7627

Joni shares that she’s committed to using words that give life, hope, and encouragement.

Friend, never take your words for granted!

Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada where I hope you’ll always hear encouraging words for your growth in Christ. Words that can bring change in your life; which is why I dare not take the seriousness of my speech for granted, for Jesus says in Matthew chapter 12, “I tell you, [right there you know it’s something important, right] on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak...” Yikes! No careless words here, I hope, but the fact that we’ll have to give an account one day for every word? Well, it just goes to show the importance of what we say – words have this curious power to make living things wither and die, or bring dead things to life. Like it says in Proverbs 18, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

Well, I am committed to making my words give life… life and hope and encouragement. It’s something I practice daily with my husband – never have I seen a man respond so to a good word. I'm not talking about flattery, but I'll tell him, “Ken, thank you for going to visit that neighbor who has cancer… man, that was a thoughtful thing for you to do.” Or, “Ken, I'm so grateful you’re a man of prayer – God bless you for always taking the lead and inviting people to pray. Good on ya for that!” It’s called affirmation (not flattery, not sweet talk that has no meaning; you know, smooth speech you say just to get your way); rather, I mean affirmation. That is, pronouncements and declarations of the good you see in others… or at least the good you want to encourage. My friend Sam Crabtree has written an excellent little book called “Practicing Affirmation” and he has some great ideas, great ways to bless and affirm the people you know…

This is what he suggests, he says, “At a committee or board meeting, before moving on to the next agenda item, stop to commend those who worked on the previous item. Or how about this: Explain that what inspired you to do some good action was the other person’s example; like, “I brought coffee cake for the office because I see how much the staff enjoys it when you consistently do thoughtful things.” Another way to affirm -- don’t talk down to people; talk up to them. Remember what Philippians chapter 2 says, that we are not to do or say anything out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility, we are to count others more significant than ourselves. Or how about this: loan someone something of value – maybe camping gear, the use of your car; it’s a signal that you notice a virtue in the other person that elevates your confidence in his trustworthiness; and finally, how about writing to a child. I can’t tell you how many mothers have told me how much they appreciate it when I write their child to thank them for something they sent me or gave me or did for me. You can’t do better than affirm a child. 

Oh, what life-giving power can be found in an encouraging word. Think of all the people you’ll see today… people you know who are going through tough times; recovering from surgery, dealing with grief, coping with pain. Proverbs 12 says, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Did you hear that? Your good words can gladden the hearts of the people around you today. So whether it’s said in an email, in person, in a letter, over the phone, or in a note, remember that what you say has the capacity to change the countenance and the character of others. And the best word of all -- how about the Word Himself, Jesus Christ, who always has wonderful words of life. Thanks for listening to Joni and Friends.

© Joni and Friends

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