Two men walkingIn his book, EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DIRECTION, Alan Jones describes the first time he received spiritual direction. He was still in seminary. Periodically he had to take walks with his principal.

Jones writes:”He (the principal) was an extraordinary and powerful personality. I have since come to realize that he is an extremely complex man whose own psychological and spiritual wounds helped to make him the man he was and is.

At the time I had no real notion of his own hurts. I received nothing but receptivity and love and it was this which influenced me deeply.
It was as if he could see into my deepest self. He was able to show me that God loved me all the way through. He was the bearer of the miracle that I mattered.”

Jones was fortunate. Many live and die without knowing that they “matter”.
Ironically this includes some whom the world consider most successful.

It would seem then that one of the most precious gifts that we can give each other is the gift of significance.
Or should I say a reminder that we are all significant because God loves us.

Perhaps that is why Paul takes every opportunity to give honest affirmation.
For example, he tells the Colossian Christians:

“We always thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.”
Colossians 1:3-5a ESV

We shouldn”t be surprised then that the hard world of business management is also beginning to take seriously this fundamental human need for significance.

In their book ENCOURAGING THE HEART, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner quote Tony Codianni, director of the Training and Dealer Development Group for Toshiba America Information Systems, as saying that “encouraging the heart is the most important leadership practice because it is the most personal. Leadership is about people, and if you are going to lead people you have to care about them.”

What may be more surprising is their reference to a key study done by the Centre for Creative Leadership. The Centre discovered that the one single factor that distinguished the highest performing managers from the lowest performing was the fact that “the highest performing managers show more warmth and fondness towards others?”

We shouldn’t be.
What kind of leader would you rather work for?
One who doesn”t know you exist and who only communicates when he/she criticizes, or, a boss who gives you honest affirmation and who lets you know that he/she really cares about your welfare?

The tragic irony is while the marketplace is beginning to take seriously this universal need for significance, many churches and parachurches do not.

How many of our boards are peopled by people who have virtually no EQ?
How many bruised and broken vocational workers are out there because they have had to work under leaders who took them for granted, leaders who showed them little or no affirmation?

Of course it is hard to give what we ourselves have not received.
And many of us have not received adequate affirmation.
Therefore we do not know how to give it.

Maybe a starting point for all of us is to pause to remember that God loved us enough to suffer and to die for us.
We matter all right.

Help someone realize that today.
Affirm someone.