Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Little Encouragement & Appreciation

Maybe I notice the lack of vocalized appreciation in this world because encouraging others is part of my life purpose, but the world is sorely lacking here! Maybe I notice it because it sure does go a long way for a teacher in the long, cold, gray days of January. I probably notice it because I’m focused on it: I’ve been naturally doing it my whole life…not because I’m so fabulous, there’s plenty of stuff that I stink at – that I’m not gifted at, but I am gifted to show appreciation, to encourage, and to fill others up. It comes easily for me. It’s part of my life mission. Part of my mission is to be in a mode of continually doing it myself, and part of my mission is to challenge others to do it, as well.

“The deepest principle of human nature is a craving to be appreciated.”
-William James

I think some people feel appreciative, but they don’t know how to show it, what to say, or how to say it. Maybe some people feel that saying it sounds like they are trying to gain favor in the other person’s eyes, especially if that person is their superior (but those in leadership need to be inspired, too, and I believe that you can inspire “up”). Maybe what holds people back is that they think if they show appreciation to person A, person B will feel like they didn’t do something right. All of those things are obstacles that we put in our very own way…unfounded reasons that hold us back from doing what is life-giving to another.

Studies show that some employers have the misconception that if they show too much appreciation, employees’ work will diminish. The data proves that this is not the case as long as rewards, recognition, and appreciation are deserved, specific, and timely.

Giving encouragement and showing appreciation is so much more than a common practice in great work environments and well-functioning families. We are called to do it. It is expected of us if we are trying to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. The Bible is filled with examples of our being called to encourage and up-lift others. There are far too many passages to list, but here are a few:
Acts 20:1-2: When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece.

Acts 13: After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak."

2 Samuel19:7: Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the LORD that if you don't go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come upon you from your youth till now.

Job 16:5: But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

The examples show supporting another believer in his walk with Christ, inspiring groups through acknowledging their dreams, goals and purpose, and even encouraging others to press on in the face of adversity, when they feel most like giving up.

My husband says that it just isn’t realistic to think we’d see that in the workplace – or anywhere else, that he sees too many places where it just isn’t part of the “culture”. I agree with what he sees, but that doesn’t make it ok, and that only fuels my fire to set about changing it! Barbara Glanz writes that “the need to be validated and appreciated as a worthwhile human being is greater than ever before, especially in our schools and our workplaces. A recent study indicated that last year 65% of our workforce reported that they had received no appreciation for the good work they had done.”

I can’t tell you how sad that makes me! And yet I know it to be true…I see it all around me. I see it in the workplaces of almost everyone I know and in many families, churches, and organizations, too. Why? I don’t know, and that’s why I’m on a mission to change it. It costs nothing, takes relatively little time, and even makes the one giving the encouragement or appreciation feel great.

“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.” –Zig Ziglar

By speaking life into others, we help them stay on the right path when they feel they can’t take another step. We help them feel important, acknowledged, listened to, and loved. We show them that they matter. We confirm that their excellent work is significant…which ultimately causes them to want to do more excellent work. We show them that they are not forgotten. We remind them that the hard times won’t last. We may speak just the right words that cause them to hang on just a little longer…until the tide turns. We are, for just a moment, the very voice of God whispering to their hearts.

Over-achievers who are shown appreciation work even harder.
Under-achievers who are shown appreciation start to raise their game.
Friends who are encouraged are kinder.
Husbands and wives who show each other appreciation start to reciprocate.
Children who are shown appreciation start to “do” without being asked.
Team members who are encouraged try harder.
Bosses who are shown appreciation go to greater lengths.

“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.”
-Albert Schweitzer

So, that’s my challenge to you: rekindle someone else’s light today. A kind word, or my very favorite – the hand-written note, is all it takes. For no other reason than because it needs to be said, because it’s the right thing to do, because it’s life-giving. The woman who cleans the office restrooms needs to hear it. The guy at the gas station needs to hear it. Your friend needs to hear it. The daycare worker needs to hear it. And so does your child and your husband and your boss and your co-worker.
…And just imagine how the world might start to change.

Just imagine how the world might start to change if we all started to serve for absolutely no earthly thanks or reward and began to express thanks and appreciation like people’s very lives depended on it.

Question: Who will you encourage and show appreciation to today?

1 comment:

Kgirl said...

I love and appreciate you, Alyssa!! Just being around you makes my week brighter! You are a wonderful person....I'll be thinking of you as you start this new chapter in your life. Give me a call on your drive so we can catch up. :) Kara