Guest Writer: Pamela Hall
Every Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. we gather for our weekly staff meeting. You may be a little curious about these meetings wondering what happens when we get together. Is the room bathed in a heavenly glow similar to Moses’ experience on Mount Sinai when God met him and the elders of Israel (Exodus 24)? Or, is it an intense time of prayer like the disciples who gathered in the upper room in Acts 2? I have yet to witness a heavenly glow in the conference room or tongues of fire above Kris, Brenda, or anyone’s head, but occasionally we have a disruption to our regular routine. This happened some weeks ago when Eugene walked in and threw us a curve ball. He came bearing gifts—a book entitled, Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree and cheerfully told us that we would be reading the book discussing it together as a staff.
Our initial response may have been a groan here or there, but in the following weeks I saw the wisdom of Eugene’s decision. Many Christians have not been taught how or why practicing affirmation is important even though the Bible commands us to do it (1 Corinthians 14:6, Romans 15:2). Operating on an assumption that it is needed, I personally have given it my best shot only to find out through this book that my affirmation attempts have often been wrongly motivated or inappropriately given. The one assumption I made correctly was that it was needed or as the author concludes affirmation is not optional. It is a key to refreshing relationships.
The premise of Crabtree’s book is that good affirmations are God-centered pointing to the image of God in a person. Affirmation of Christlike qualities glorifies God, encourages others to develop godly character, and rewards godly behaviors that are likely to be repeated. He offers practical instruction on how to avoid using flattery to manipulate our relationships, which enables them to develop with greater authenticity and honesty.
Though many Christians can quote that we are to speak the truth in love, we probably are more effective in quoting the principle than practicing it. To help the reader with this problem, Crabtree addresses this in the book when he presents his principle “The Affirmation Ratio,” which helps the reader understand how to appropriately use affirmation and correction. Other sections of this book that I found insightful include the four characteristics of good affirmation, the nine reasons for affirming others, and a list of mistakes people often make with affirmation.
In my opinion this is a must read for anyone who wants to develop better relationships with family, friends, coworkers, other Christians, and non-Christians. The wisdom offered in this book is both practical and biblical. Passages of scriptures are throughout each chapter offering new insight and understanding into both familiar and less familiar passages. If our goal is to develop compelling relationships with God and others to have an irresistible influence in the world, practicing affirmation will help us reach that goal more quickly as we learn to be on the look-out and affirm God-centered behaviors in the lives of others. After all, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).