From a young age we learn to seek affirmation. Children run to the nearest adult, “Look look what I made!” And of course what is our adorning response? “WOW that’s a beautiful, umm… that’s a beautiful… you did a really good job, IT’S BEAUTIFUL!” (even if we have no idea what it is!) Satisfied, the child runs back to create more “masterpieces” that are sure to be the next showcase at the Louvre, or at least mom’s refrigerator. They have been affirmed and affirmation brings rest to the mind and ignites the heart with passion.
Did you know that affirmation actually releases the same trigger in the brain as receiving money? Your brain is wired to delight in receiving compliments, encouragement, affirmation, and love.
“Affirmations are our mental vitamins, providing the supplementary positive thoughts we need to balance the barrage of negative events and thoughts we experience daily.” -Tia Walker
As parents and leaders our job is to represent the Father’s heart. We are to affirm, encourage, discipline, and all through deep unconditional love. However, depending on environment, there is an age when we will begin to realize that not everyone thinks that our voice is grammy material, or perhaps, we’re not the next Picasso or Monet. Maybe we learn this through peers, through parents, through teachers, through family members, but somewhere in there not everyone seems to think that we’re so awesome.
A void is created; where there used to be unconditional acceptance, it is now replaced by mixed opinions about our talents, gifts, looks, and choices.
I can trace back to my childhood when I remember starting to “perform” for affirmation. I came from a home where my Mom complimented me for everything I did (God bless her, she’s still this way, my number one fan) and my father, was far on the other end of the spectrum. My Dad, loved us, but he had never been taught how to truly affirm. I remember thinking, “if I clean my room spotless, he’ll notice”, “If I score over twenty points, he’ll say I had a good game”, “If I wear this skirt, he’ll tell me I look pretty”. It wasn’t that I even did it on purpose, I was just craving affirmation from a father.
It started at a young age with my dad, but eventually began to launch out to leaders, mentors, coaches, pastors, any in authority and men. I knew that if I could be the best, if I could work harder than anyone else, if I could perform well then affirmation and praise was sure to come from all around me.
I don’t think I ever noticed it, but my own value and self respect was driven by the way I was perceived by others. If I was thought of as nice, talented, smart, fun, pretty, likeable, then I felt really good about myself, but if someone didn’t “like” me, I would do my best to change it! A mentor from my hometown told me a few years ago, “I remember the first time I was told that not everyone was going to like me, I was devastated and couldn’t understand it” When she told that to me, I couldn’t understand it! LOL. Of course everyone will like me, I will be nice, giving, caring, and do everything I can to please people… Why wouldn’t they like me?
And that is where the real problem lies…
“If you don’t live by man’s praises, you won’t die by their criticism” -Bill Johnson
If you’re living life for the praise and affirmation of man, you’ll never actually life your life, you’ll live everyone else’s! You have assignments and passions from God for you to live out. Throughout life many people won’t understand them, they’ll disagree with them, they won’t like it or maybe they won’t like you. The temptation to change what God has done in you, said to you, or wants to do through you will be high, so that you can please man. Throughout this year I truly learned what Papa Bill meant. I’ve made decisions people have loved and some they have hated. I’ve found people who have loved me and some who didn’t like me. I’ve said and done things to people who have forgiven quickly and others who haven’t. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve had some awesome breakthrough. Some people cheer when you succeed and some cheer when you fail, but I learned something extremely important, I’m not living for those around me. (This doesn’t mean we don’t care about them and love them, it just means they don’t have control over who I am and what I do)
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
We live for the One who is the One and He gives unending affirmation. This longing to be accepted, affirmed, and unconditionally loved is a universal need across mankind. You were created with this longing because IT. CAN. BE. FOUND. Daddy God is waiting to affirm you. He’s waiting for you to run to Him and ask Him how He feels about you. His approval is on you regardless of your actions. (This doesn’t mean He approves of our actions, but He always approves of us) When the Holy Spirit comes in you, HE IS YOUR STAMP OF APPROVAL!
In Matthew 3, God affirmed Jesus before He ever started “performing” for the Kingdom. He said, “This is my BELOVED SON in whom I am WELL PLEASED”. God didn’t find value in Jesus based off of what He had done or even what He was going to do, but rather in His identity as a Son.
It works the same for you. God’s value and pleasure for you are not determined by how you live, but who you are. That is how we can see that He loves ALL of mankind, regardless of if they ever choose Him or not. When you come to Papa God, He LOVES to affirm you. He loves to tell you how precious and prized you are. My friend Justyn often says, “I don’t go to men for my affirmation, I go to my Father, because,
“it’s the most powerful thing in the world when the Father says He’s proud of you”.
Of course, God still disciplines us. Of course, there are times of conviction, when Holy Spirit says, “YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE SAID THAT!”. Remember that God’s discipline and correction always comes from a place of Fatherhood. If you tell a lie, Holy Spirit will never say, YOU ARE A LIAR, but the enemy will. Holy Spirit will say, “YOU ARE A TRUTH TELLER, YOU ARE GOD’S CHILD, so repent! OUR FAMILY DOESN’T LIE!” The enemy will make you believe that sin is your nature (untrue according to 2 Cor. 5:17) that it is who you are, but God will remind you IT IS NOT WHO YOU ARE, it was something you did.
Think about your family. You have certain values and traits that you hold dear. I remember KNOWING growing up. “Tate’s don’t quit”. If I wanted to give up on a track race, or quit a board game because I was losing, I knew what the response would be from my Dad, “Tate’s don’t quit”. Now, if I chose to quit anyway, did I stop being a Tate? Absolutely not, I just happened to act in a way that my Family does not act.
As part of God’s family, you are His Child! You’ve been given A NEW NATURE. You are His!!! Your old self and sinful nature is GONE. You may have occasions where you choose to act like you’re not in this family and He will always come right along side you to remind you WHOSE you are. Sometimes that reminder is quiet and gentle, sometimes it’s loud and strong, but always with the same message. YOU ARE MY CHILD, WE DON’T ACT THAT WAY!
When God addresses us and we address others according to who they are in Christ and not by what they do, we cast our all fear and anxiety, we bring hope, healing, AND correction.
I’ve gone off on a long tangent, but it’s so important to know, that even if you’ve made mistakes, even if you’ve failed, if you have faith in Jesus Christ who died for your sins, if you have accepted Him as the Lord of all, you can ALWAYS run to God and He will be running after you with open arms. (Prodigal Son Luke 12)
In His arms you will find the Father’s love. You may find correction, but it will be through sonship and daughtership. He’ll affirm you, that YOU ARE APART OF THIS FAMILY! YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE WANTED. YOU WERE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE.
As you go throughout life, many people will adorn you with adoration, praises, honor and respect, but many will also be delighted to share their diapproval, negativity, disprespect, and doubts. It is always wise to have Godly counsel where you accept praise and criticism, but don’t ever forget, you were never meant to live for the approval of man.
Run to the Father, He is ready to affirm you.
Be Blessed, J. Tate