The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
There is a book called “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. In the book, he identifies five “love languages” – words of affirmation, quality time, giving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. He describes how each person has one of these languages as their primary “love language,” the language in which they prefer to give and receive love. I highly recommend this relationship book.
This book applies not only to marriages but also to other relationships as well. My love language is words of affirmation. People who have this as their language express love primarily through words – spoken or written. A person whose language is acts of service, as an example, is less likely to compliment with words but rather to express love and positive sentiment in deeds.
It is really important to me to not only give positive affirmation to others but to receive words of affirmation from others. And in a working situation, it is important to me to know where I stand with people. Am I doing well? Do I need improvement? And finally, when getting suggestions for improvement I would prefer they be offered in as positive of a light as possible.
Many times, we are saying things or hearing things that are unnecessarily unkind. Instead of offering constructive criticism, we tend to delight in offering destructive criticism. Instead of saying “If you try it this way next time, you’ll probably get better results,” we say things like “well, you failed.”
No one likes to be told that they’ve failed, or feel like they’ve failed. However, in order to improve, we have to be told we need improvement. There is a difference between offering suggestions for improvement in ways that are positive and ways that are negative.
Today’s advice is to correct people gently. Do not say things that are unkind when correcting others. Try to frame criticism in a positive way, like “let’s do it this way next time,” or “would you mind a suggestion that I think will work?”
People also like to know where they stand. If no one ever tells you that you are doing well, you might feel like you are not doing well at something. So, in addition to gently correcting people when they’ve done wrong, it is important to affirm people when they’ve done right. Telling someone “you are doing a great job” is going to motivate them to continue doing a great job. Thanking someone in front of their peers is another way to motivate people. If you like what you see in someone else, tell them, and you are likely to see more of it.
Finally, there are people who seem to delight in taking little jabs at others, to keep them feeling off balance, rather than confident. If we start from a place of wanting to not unnecessarily harm one another, then we will work to use kind words and refrain from using unnecessary unkind words.
Remember it costs nothing to say something kind to someone. Many people thrive on words of affirmation. When you affirm others, you do not only show kindness, but many times your affirmation will improve your relationships and the behaviors exhibited in them.
Going back to today’s scripture verse, when we are unkind, we make others anxious. As we read in Proverbs 12:25, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,” but if we offer kind words towards others, it is the good and kind sentiments that bring joy to others.
Lord, thank You for the people in my life who affirm me (list them, and how they affirm you). Help me to resist the urge to speaking unkind things to or about people. Comfort and strengthen people who have no one to affirm them. Help me to see value in others today and always. Amen.
Go out of your way to affirm people today!
Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website!
Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
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