The Life-Giving Power of Affirmation
By Craig Kuehn
All over the world we have Go To Nation’s missionaries and members getting engaged, married, and starting families. Those of us a little further down the road are well into grandchildren at this stage of life. As adorable and loving as those little bundles are, the truth is they all start life with deep, deep deficits. Because of sin and the fall, the sin nature is full blown at birth. The ‘nature’ of starting with a sin nature is that we are naturally prone to fear, insecurity, limitation and lack. Lack of confidence. Lack of acceptance. And so on.
The fruit of that nature is we start life needy. We have holes in our hearts that we seek to get filled one way or another. We build walls of self-preservation to protect us from further hurt. We live life guarded. For those of us in ministry, when these roots, even in their weakest form are allowed to remain, they become a foundation for pride to grow. Pride is often just a manifestation of our own insecurity now working through self-preservation. This becomes a never-ending cycle of NEED that is rooted in fear and produces shame. Too much ministry is fear and shame based. As ministers, how do we turn that around?
Every man, woman and child need RAILS to run on. We all need Recognition, Acceptance, Identity, Love and Security. Those rails can keep us on track. HOW WE GET those rails makes all the difference.
We all know that salvation changes the sin nature, but the truth is that true sonship in Christ is an ongoing process, a lifelong series of exchanges. We get a new spirit, or a ‘made new’ spirit when we come to Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). But our soul; mind, will and emotions, are changed in increments as seeds of Biblical truth are planted, rooted, tended and fruited over years and often decades. Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world (or this worlds way of thinking); but be TRANSFORMED by renewing your mind,
Ephesians 4:23 says ‘…be made new in the attitude of your mind’. Change your SOUL attitude, your outlook on life and others. ‘Transformed’ in 2 Cor. 5:17 is the Greek word metamorphoo. You might recognize immediately we get the word metamorphosis from this word. From worm or slug to butterfly, beautiful winged creatures. If you have seen any of the Flip Your House shows, this Greek word means ‘take it down to the studs’. Get down to the foundations, the underpinnings, the framing the rest is built on.
Why is all of this so critical? Because as leaders you reproduce what you are (who you are FOR REAL)! Your very breath carries the DNA of the nature that lives in you at a cellular level. God never promotes what we SHOW on the outside. He only promotes what we GROW on the inside. Roots determine fruit, especially as ministers and leaders.
My own transformation came as I began to lead others. I soon realized my own insecurities as a leader, which meant I was insecure as a believer. God and I spent a decade working on my root system, discovering sonship, and defeating fears, so that I could lead from His platform and not my own. As a minister, you can NEVER work FOR a place in God. You must always work FROM a place in God.
ALL MINISTRY SHOULD TAKE PLACE OUT OF OVERFLOW. You can’t give to others any freedom you don’t personally carry. Remember we are only stewards, caretakers of spiritual truth that lives in us. When our Recognition, Acceptance, Identity, Love and Security come FROM our position in Christ, then the overflow becomes natural. Our foundations determine our formation, and our formation determines our expression.
Because of your ministry calling, you have a mantle, an equipping. God always equips us for the call. (2 Tim 3:17). That means that as leader, you have eyes to see ‘leader’ in others. We should all see in others what they do not yet see in themselves, AND SPEAK TO IT! God sent an angel to Gideon (who was hiding in fear) with these words ‘the Lord is with you, oh mighty man of valor.’ God calls David (the adulterer and murderer) ‘…a man after mine own heart.’
Everyone knows their failures, their faults, their weaknesses. When our words agree with what they already know to be, all it does is reinforce what the enemy whispers in their ears day after day. LIFE AND DEATH are in the power of (or empowered by) the tongue. (Deut. 30:19). Empowerment is one of the four core values of Go To Nations. To truly empower those we lead we must not only see what God sees, we must speak like God speaks. He ALWAYS speaks to destiny. He always speaks to who Christ is in us, and who we are ‘in Christ.’
The ‘nature’ of the nature of Christ is that we naturally move towards words of affirmation, confirmation, exhortation and expectation. Isaiah 40:1 gives this command, ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people saith your God.’ The word ‘comfort’ in this verse means to come and fortify. Most of us live in nations where steel ‘rebar’ is used to support concrete structures. To fortify means to put those steel rods in people as we speak to them. The biblical command is to bless, to strengthen, to fortify others with our words.
I encourage you to read again from the Core Values Handbook the article on Honor. 1 Peter 2:17, ‘HONOR ALL MEN.’ To honor God, I MUST honor those he created as he would honor them, in both word and action.
So how do we speak life and affirmation over others? It begins with an understanding of just what we are saying. Scripture is clear that we find what we seek and we see what we are looking for. If we begin to build into our lives a sensitivity to LOOK FOR the heart of heaven as we communicate with others, the Greater One who lives inside of us will help us see, hear and speak as he does.
For me, that means I have to think about it. Before I prepare a teaching, I have to think about my audience and is there anyone (or everyone) that needs to be Recognized in their efforts, Accepted in their role, Identified in their accomplishment, Loved in their position or person, and Secure in this global spiritual family?
I always have to look, and re-look at my words to be sure they convey the Father’s hearts for his sons and daughters when I speak or write. Your wife is God’s daughter. Your son is God’s son. Your Director was hand chosen by God to sow into you. Your team mate or co-worker is a co-destined member of THE Royal Family placed along side of you in this season.
We all RISE when Greatness, Destiny, Value, Purpose, Life and Possibilities are spoken over us. This is one of the most significant roles we carry as ministers. Every living thing bends towards the light. When our words produce a supercharged environment of life and light you will see such accelerated growth around you. That is the power of affirmation. Look for ways to affirm those who hear your voice or read your words every chance you have. Do it publicly as often as possible. I saw Dr. George Meyers do this in every single meeting.
In the last couple of years one my biggest change has been in my emailed correspondence. Email is a primary means of communication for me and I have LEARNED to s l o w w w d o w n n n and listen as I communicate. I no longer use the word ‘thanks’. I stop and say ‘Thank You, Jim for all that you do.’ Not just words. But words that are personal and affirming. I think about who I am communicating with and speak value to areas where I recognize their growth, efforts, passions, achievements, faithfulness and so on. It affirms us to know others see value in us, growth in us, and so on. We should be cheering each other on! Hebrews says a great cloud of witnesses is cheering us on. Because we are all rewarded based on how those that follow us do!
I do this often with my grandsons. Noah is 4 and my chant for him is ‘Hey my Noah, I said ah Hey Hey my Noah. Hey my Noah, Hey Hey my Noah.’ HE BEAMS when I do that. He thinks he is the greatest grandchild that ever lived. I make up songs about them. Psalms says God sings songs over us. Cheer each other on!
Just this month I was writing to a couple folks on our communications list I have not heard from in a while. I wrote to one individual that had given to us years ago, but we had not heard from in quite some time. I started my email with a heart-felt ‘How are you? How are you doing?’ A simple enough introduction, but it was genuine and spirit-led. I knew it when I wrote it. A day later I received a several paragraph response sharing what God was doing at the very moment I asked. My question was confirmation of all that God was saying and an affirmation that accelerated a quick turn-around for this person.
The bottom line is, people become what we as leaders place in front of them. Our words should affirm who Christ says they are, how they are valued as his children and members of the family we are all part of. We are blessed to be a blessing, and life spoken over others will always produces life.