How to Affirm a Child

Everyone reading this could give instruction about how important it is to affirm a child and how to do it. Perhaps you remember being affirmed as a child. A parent, teacher, pastor, someone spoke into your life and you were lifted!

Let me tell you a story from the 4th grade:

Mrs. Fent, during handwriting instruction: “Now, don’t lift your hand from your paper because I can tell where you stopped writing and started again.”

My hand shot into the air! “Mrs. Fent, Mrs. Fent, I’ll bet you can’t tell where I stop and start again!” My penmanship was unreadable! Mrs. Fent had every opportunity to dress me down! She could have held my paper up for the rest of the class an example of what NOT to do! Instead, she smiled at me and said,

“Well, David, you’re just a whiz!”

I could have failed 4th grade because I was also a terrible reader. But as “luck” would have it, Mrs. Fent was my teacher the next year in the 5th grade.

Many years later, while training at the university to be an elementary school teacher, I was required to write twenty-five words on a white board in manuscript and in cursive in three minutes. And it had to look like the charts on the wall! Thank you for affirming me Mrs. Fent!

Not long afterwards, I had a position in a Christian school teaching a 5th and 6th grade combination class. Who did I go find to share this news? That’s right, Mrs. Fent. “Well, I’m not surprised David. I knew when you were my student that you had the potential to do something wonderful!” Even as an adult, I left my 4th grade teacher with a spring in my step!

How do you affirm a child?

The same way you affirm anyone-the same way Jesus did, you lift them!

“An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside Him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.’” And with this teaching, Jesus lifted the disciples too. He affirmed them and lifted them to the highest level – the level of servants!  (Luke 9:46-48, NIV)

“Get away you little brats!” (Matt. 19:14, David’s paraphrase)

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14, NIV)

Jesus lifted children. He affirmed women, demon possessed people, sinners, the unclean, and finally, you and me. How? He caused us to look into His wonderful face! You want to be a lifter, an affirmer? Help children and adults too to do what the old song says:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”                                                             Helen H. Lemmel

Perhaps you other old timers can remember another song:

“My Glory and the Lifter of my head,

My Glory and the Lifter of my head.

For Thou o Lord art a Shield for me,

My Glory and the Lifter of my head!”

It comes from Psalm 3:3

“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory,  the One who lifts my head high.”

We are Christ’s ambassadors, called and gifted to be lifters and affirmers!

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