NOTE: There is a danger in writing a blog like this. This is in no way some sort of needy, passive way at hinting at a need of mine.
"Validation" for some reason carries a bit of a negative connotation these days. Images of past acquaintances or modern day martyrs start flying through your head of people fishing for compliments based on their inherent need for love and attention, or serving in order to be notice for how wonderful they are. Though all that can be true, and filling that need for someone may not necessarily be a bad thing, that's not really what I'm talking about.
See in those situations, there seems to be some sort of deficit that needs to be filled and the only way to do it is to validate someone's actions. However, what I want to tell you about is the power of the unexpected validation.
I have a friend who I love and respect a great deal. She has this incredible gift to not only see, but to point out the gifts and talents that someone has. And it's not just an occasional thing either. It's constantly. (and I really do mean constantly, like several times a day) No matter who this person is, what their past, present, or future look like she can find the good in them, and she tells them about it too! I must admit that I've given her a lot of crap about this, but I also have to say that you'd be hard pressed to walk away from an interaction with her feeling bad about yourself. Her unexpected validation does wonders for the people around her. She truly becomes the light of Christ and spreads it to those she meets. Incredible.
I have a mentor whom I hold in the highest regard. I am honored to call him my friend and aspire every day to model the example that he set out for me. While trading emails with him, he told me very simply "You inspire me." I have to tell you, those three words carried an immense weight for me. When your inspiration is inspired by you, boy is that ever some validation. That sort of thing can keep you going for years.
But this unexpected validation doesn't need to be some big extravagant thing. A colleague of mine ran our confirmation orientation a couple of weeks ago. She had everything laid out, she worked really hard on the hand outs, the schedule for the meeting, all of it. Watching her run this orientation was awesome. She rocked it. After that meeting, she got an email that said something to the effect of "thank you for the meeting. It was well organized and well presented. I know what's going on for this coming year and I feel ready for it." As she told our team about this, you could just see the satisfaction on her face. She reflected "That sort of thing really makes you feel like you're doing alright."
So I have been inspired by all of these things. So I decided to try a little bit of it. I was at a council meeting this past week. One of the council members stepped in to run the meeting. Before hand he talked me through a few other things that I'd need to know about this congregation and some things I needed to do for it. He ran a great meeting, and then stayed after a little bit to chat with a couple of us that lingered a bit. As I talked with him, I found out all of the other things that he does for the church and for the community. I will tell you, this man has A LOT going on. But all of the things that he does seem to be those sort of thankless jobs. So seeing this opportunity, I simply said, "I just want to say thank you. I know I'm new here, but I can see how much work you do, and I know that your work makes life easier for the rest of us. So thanks." He seemed a bit taken aback by my statement, but then a smile came across his face and he said "well, I try, and I really appreciate that." This was not a difficult thing on my part at all. I simply had to keep my eyes open and see how God is using this man. What a gift for service he has, and I have to believe that a little validation made a big difference.
So I challenge you to do the same. Open your eyes. Look at those around you. Who do you see that is doing God's work with excellence? Who makes life a little easier for you? Who inspires you? Who has amazing gifts that you can see? Maybe it's time to let them know.