The Power of Affirmation

I sat in a small circle with four young adults and thought, “What have I gotten myself into?” Our assignment was to speak words of life to each other. We were part of a group of pastors and pastoral interns who had just spent two and a half incredibly inspiring days together working on developing our denominational internship program. Before heading home, we were asked to get into small groups and affirm each other by sharing the good things we see in each other. In particular we were asked to affirm God’s calling. When I realized I was sitting among four young adults, I almost went to be part of a group of people my age. I’m so glad I didn’t.

We started with a young man (in his mid 20s) who said, “This is going to be awkward.” But after the four of us told him what we saw God doing in his life and how he had positively impacted each of our lives, he said any awkward feelings he felt were replaced with feelings of encouragement and empowerment. We not only affirmed his calling to ministry, but we also shared the impact he had on each of our lives and how blessed we felt being in relationship with him. In essence, we spoke words of life to him.

We affirmed one more young man and then the four turned to me. I had no idea what they would say to a man more than 20 years their senior. I was literally blown away at the words of life they spoke to me—each one of them affirming that I was a personal blessing to them and a blessing to the denomination we are part of. As they spoke, I felt my heart filling with praise that God was using me to make a positive impact in the lives of these four people. I had no idea the impact I had on them. If they hadn’t shared this with me, I never would have known and thus I wouldn’t have been encouraged to keep doing what God has empowered me to do.

Have you had words of life spoken to you? The Bible is full of words of life. You are God’s child (John 1:12); you are Christ’s friend (John 15:15); you belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20); you’ve been anointed and sealed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21-22); you are blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3); you are holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4); you are adopted (Ephesians 1:5); you are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10, New Living Translation); you are included (Ephesians 1:13). These words of life are there to encourage, empower and affirm you. This is God’s intent. He wants you to know how much he values you, how much he loves you, how proud he is to call you his child. And until you know this, it’s difficult to be motivated to share God’s love with others.

As ambassadors of Christ, as ministers of reconciliation, as the salt of the earth and light of the world, I believe we are called to speak words of life to each other. I believe we are called to build each other up, to encourage each other, to empower each other, to affirm each other. This affirmation motivates us to do what God asks us to do.

May I suggest you ask God to lead you to someone who needs to be affirmed? Then sit with that person, look him or her in the eye and speak words of life to them. You will be amazed at what happens.

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