How can I make a positive impact in others’ lives?
One way is by being encouraging and affirming. When we see the value and potential in others and then convey to them what we see, we are making a positive impact. When we aim our affirmation towards a specific area in others’ lives it can help them reach their potential in life and in Christ.
Here are eight ways we can learn to affirm others.
1.Realize every person has value as someone created in the image of God and as one for whom Christ died. The world is a hurtful place where people are devalued and put down every day. Many are bound by the scars of past hurt and don’t feel free to be all they could be in life and in Christ. We can help set them free by recognizing their value.
2.Commit to encourage and affirm others. This comes through understanding the power of words to value and affirm others as well as to free, inspire, and motivate. If we have experienced these kinds of words in our lives and remember their powerful and positive impact it can motivate us to do the same for others. Ephesians 4:29 says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV). We need to determine to be this kind of person by the power of the Holy Spirit.
3.Recognize we must continually seek to have our own inner needs met in Christ and His love for us. Only when our inner needs are met can we overcome the fear of reaching out. Our desire to be appreciated and affirmed can keep us from appreciating and affirming others.
4.Reflect on people’s positive attributes and actions to identify the good things you value about them. Although we are all sinners, God’s grace is still manifest in positive attributes and actions in every person. It’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of a person’s character. We need God’s help to focus on areas where His grace is shown in others.
5.Decide on the best way to express affirmation—words, actions, or both.Although I am focusing mainly on words here, actions can also show affirmation. A good example of this is found in 2 Timothy 1:15-17. The acceptance, commitment, and loyalty Onesiphorus showed to Paul in prison is a good example of affirmation through actions. Actions, like giving thoughtful gifts and spending quality time with people, also show people you value them.
6.Speak from your heart to their heart. When offering affirmation through words it’s important to remember these words must be kind ones. That said kindness has more to do with the manner in which we speak than our word choice. Sometimes our words say one thing but our tone of voice says another. We tend to interpret messages based on our tone of voice, not the words used.
7.Avoid flattery and false praise. Flattery is insincere praise motivated by the hope of gaining something from the person being flattered. False praise is aimed at something a person can’t control like intelligence or natural talent. Genuine affirmation focuses on positive attributes and actions such as determination exhibited, discipline exercised, and development of character.
8.Be patient. Encouragement and affirmation don't necessarily bring about instant change. But they are instruments through which God can work. Our appreciative affirmation creates an environment for positive growth and change to take place. Over time, God in His grace will work to accomplish His purposes in and through those we encourage.
I hope this helps.