All people long for two things; encouragement and affirmation. When you become skilled at sharing God’s love in these ways, many you thought resistant will welcome both you and your message.
A Change in Mohd
“Mohd, please come up here to the front.” Mohd’s face changed, and his friends sitting around him started to point their fingers at him and said, “Oh no Mohd, you’re in trouble again.”
I was a volunteer in my son’s school. Every Wednesday afternoon, grades 1, 3, and 5 would gather in the assembly hall between sessions. For half an hour to an hour they sat on the floor waiting for the classes to begin at 1 pm. Imagine a thousand primary school children sitting silently in the hall. The heat is stifling with only a couple of fans blowing.
Our job as volunteer parents was to see that the children behaved. If they misbehaved, they were asked to stand up and be punished. Mohd was one of those boys that was always fidgeting, always talking, and was often punished. So that day, when I asked him to come up, his friends thought he was in trouble.
Finally, when he came and stood beside me, I said, “Mohd, I saw that for 5 minutes you were quiet, you did not talk, so here is your reward.”
I gave him a bar of chocolate. His countenance changed from one of fear, to him grinning from cheek to cheek. Later in the week, when I saw him in the neighborhood with his friends after school he came up and said:
“Hi Aunty!” He was so blessed that I had affirmed him in front of his friends (and a thousand others), and that for once he was not labelled a naughty boy. So I said,
“Mohd, go to the ice cream truck and pick up a 50-cent ice cream for you and your friends”. After this, Mohd and his friends always came up to me on the street and chatted with me.
Words of affirmation have a lasting impact. They open hearts of people to hear what you have to say. It was through encouragement and affirmation that one of the new mothers in the Parent’s Club accepted the Lord. She even began sharing the Gospel with others.
The Bible says a lot about encouragement and affirmation.
- “Anxious hearts are very heavy but a word of encouragement does wonders!” Proverbs 12:25
- “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3
- “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:15 -16
Affirming Hotel Interns
Recently, in a meeting in Thailand, I saw two 18- and 19-year-old girls doing a short internship training at the hotel where we were staying. They were doing a good job even though they were a bit nervous. I affirmed them every morning and patted them on the arm, saying, “Good job!”
At the end of the stay, the assistant supervisor came to me and said that they wanted a picture with me. It was the end of their training and the hotel was giving them a farewell lunch. They wanted me to be part of things. Later, before I left, I sought the three them out and asked if I could pray for their needs.
God Is An Encourager
God is an encourager! We can look for ways to encourage others even as He encourages us. People long to be recognized and accepted. Encouraging others can open the door to introduce them to the God who loved us enough to send His son to die for us.
New Practices to Consider:
- Ask God to put someone in your heart who is a non-believer. Pray and ask God for ways to affirm and encourage this person.
Be generous in your words to encourage and affirm.
- In sharing the gospel with the lost, learn to ask open-ended questions. Take time to listen to their response. Let them know you value them as a person, and that they too are precious in God’s sight!
Get started right away. Find three people you can affirm and encourage today!