The greatest words of affirmation spoken in all of history were, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” And those words provide a model for how we can affirm one another today.
The Father models for us how to affirm the people we love most in a way that gives life. It’s up to us to do the same the lives of those whom we love.
Mark 1:4-11 NRSV
 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.  And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
We could take this message in a theological direction and make it all about Jesus’ baptism and what it means for him as the Son of God being initiated into public ministry. And that’s highly appropriate.
What I’d rather do in this message is see the Father’s words over the Son as an example and a model of how we should speak to our own sons and daughters, and our spouses, and all of those whom we love the most.
THREE ELEMENTS OF A LIFE-GIVING AFFIRMATION
1. Tell people who they are.
I recently wrote a blog post about how life changes when you know who you are and when you start telling other people who they are as well.
In it, I quote Bob Goff…
Instead of telling people what they want, we need to tell them who they are. This works every time. We’ll become in our lives whoever the people we love the most say we are.
One of my own rituals is to look my kids in the eyes at night as they are going to bed and to affirm, “You are my daughter/son and I am so proud of you!” It’s an identity statement. You may be many things, which our culture typically defines first in terms of career, but you are a child of God.
2. Affirm that they are beloved of God.
God doesn’t just identity his Son as his Son, but reminds him that with that identity comes an unconditional, irrevocable kind of love.
People need, now more than ever, to be reminded that they are deeply and unconditionally loved by God.
3. Celebrate their presence.
Have you heard someone say, as you entered a space, “We’re glad you’re here!”? Obviously it can come across as disingenuine if it’s rehearsed and spoken to every single person who walks through the door of a place. But I can recall specific incidents’ in my life of being in a place I wasn’t used to and hearing, “I’m glad you came,” and it made all the difference.
Imagine the kind of power this sort of declaration has in the lives of people living in a world that sees them as another number. To say, this is who you are, you are loved by God, and I’m glad you’re here is incredibly powerful.
This kind of encouragement – so personal, so genuine – might even be the gateway to more meaninful conversations about life, God, and eternity.
Photo by Philippe Murray-Pietsch via Unsplash.
- What happens when we stop avoiding difficult people and simply love everyone? In his wildly entertaining and inspiring follow-up to the New York Times bestselling phenomenon Love Does, Bob Goff takes readers on a life-altering journey into the secret of living without fear, care, constraint, or worry.
- The path toward the outsized, unfettered, liberated existence we all long for is found in a truth as simple to say as it is hard to do:
- Goff, Bob (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 240 Pages - 04/17/2018 (Publication Date) - Thomas Nelson (Publisher)