A Lesson on Becoming an Affirmer

I’ve heard it said that it takes seven compliments to undo a single criticism. If that’s true, we should be complimenting others—a lot.

Yesterday I suggested intentionally affirming others as an antidote to our own affirmation addiction. But honestly, this is an area where I need a lot of work. So I decided to pick the brain of someone who makes a habit of complimenting others.

Meet April Hendricks. She’s the mom of TW.com blogger extraordinaire, Paula Hendricks. Paula told me her mom has always been exceptional at offering praise to others. I decided to find out her secrets for affirming others well.

Erin: What motivates you to take the time to affirm others?
April: I think it’s love that God has put in my heart that motivates me. 1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God and knows God.”

Erin: What specific outlets do you use to affirm others?
April: I use any outlet to affirm others: face-to-face, phone, text, email, and “snail mail.”

Erin: How do you know what to affirm in others?
April: I think it’s fine to give a sincere compliment, but we do have to be careful not to overdo that type of affirmation. I think of Proverbs 26:28, “A flattering tongue works ruin.” If our affirmation of a person only consists of complimenting their appearance or their accomplishments, it may be damaging to them in the long run. To encourage someone in the Lord is the key: it puts the focus on God, who is the only One who really deserves to be glorified, and it builds us up in our most holy faith (Jude 20).

Erin: Are there any biblical encouragements to affirm others?
April: That’s a good question. I’m not coming up with anything that says we are to compliment each other and say nice things to each other, but we are told to “exhort one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13) and “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Another Scripture is Phil. 2:4, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things [interests] of others.”

I can think of two bosses I have had who never gave me a compliment, but only spoke to me when they had something negative to say. I think it is sad when people cannot find something to appreciate in others. I think of the Scripture, “Let each esteem others better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3). If I take this Scripture to heart, I will treat others with respect, and will look for things in others to appreciate, which will lead me to thank and encourage them.

1 Corinthians 4:5 says “. . . then shall every man have praise of God.” If God can find something in each of His children to praise, why can’t I?

Erin: How have you seen affirmation affect others?
April: I have seen how affirming someone in the Lord gives them courage and strength. Depression and sadness is replaced by hope.

Erin: What have been the greatest words of affirmation you have received?
April: Well, what comes to mind immediately is that when I went back to school at 48 years old, it was wonderful to hear my Algebra teacher tell me that I could go as far as I wanted in Math; I might have to work harder but to just keep doing what I was doing! That was a great encouragement to me and there is room for that kind of affirmation. But it’s the encouragement I have received from God’s Word that is the best. It says in 1 Samuel 30:6 that “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God” and this is what gives the Christian strength to go on, and is the greatest form of affirmation.

Erin: I want to compliment others that freely, don’t you? So . . . here’s our homework. Get started today offering someone at least seven compliments. Who knows what criticism you’ll be erasing from their heart by “exhorting others daily.” Then, hop back on the blog and tell us about it.

Ready. Set. Compliment!

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager … read more …

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