In the previous post in this series, we looked at why we should practice affirmation in our classrooms. However, before we can begin to affirm our students, we need to make sure that we have a clear understanding of what affirmation is and what it is not.
Affirmation is NOT . . . building self-esteem. Self-esteem results in a “yawning response” to the Gospel because it builds up self, thus lessening the need for God in our lives. Affirmation builds God-esteem.
Affirmation IS . . . God-centered. Affirmation gives God the rightful glory for all good. Affirmation says, “I see the character of God in you.”
Affirmation is NOT . . . encouragement. Encouragement is good and important, but it’s not affirmation. Encouragement says, “You can do it.” Encouragement gives hope and looks forward. Affirmation looks back and says, “Do it like that again!”
Affirmation is NOT . . . flattery. Affirmation doesn’t say, “You’re so good at math!” or “Boy, you’re talented.” Affirmation says, “God has gifted you with a sharp mind for math!” or “I loved the way you used the talent God gave you to glorify Him in chapel today. That’s exactly how He wants us to use our gifts!”
Affirmation is NOT . . . student-centered. Affirmation doesn’t focus on what the student has done. It focuses on what God, through the Holy Spirit, is doing in the student. Affirmation says, “I see God working in your life.”
Affirmation is NOT . . . lowering standards. It’s about commending incremental progress toward standards that reflect that character of Christ.
Affirmation IS . . . detached from correction. The further an affirmation is from a correction, the more readily an affirmation can be heard by a student. Affirming a student can’t be “a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.”
Affirmation IS . . . honest. Don’t lie. Don’t make it up. Even the most challenging student is made in the image of God and can, therefore, be affirmed. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you find something to affirm, but never stretch the truth or patronize.
Affirmation IS . . . rooted in the Gospel. The Gospel says, “You’re worse than you think you are, but God’s grace is greater than you ever imagined.” Biblical affirmation says, “God is working in your life through the Gospel!”
Affirmation says, “To God be the glory! Great things He has done!”
Are you affirming your students Biblically?
For further reading: Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree ISBN 978-1-4335-2243-7