Superman Attaboy

The Power of Acknowledgment

It is easy to assume things. Often we assume people know we recognize what they do or that they’re even there. How would they know that though? I think of the woman who asked her husband, “How come you never tell me you love me?” He answered, “I told you once. If anything ever changes I’ll let you know.” Relationships ride on the wings of recognition. There are three spheres of relationships that simple acknowledgment can go a long way.

Acknowledging Insiders

Romans 12:10 says we are to outdo one another in showing honor (NRSV). Maybe because of a fear of our motives being questioned, we tend to error on the other end of the spectrum. We become pretty tight-fisted with our attaboys. What would happen if we erred the other way and became more freewheeling with our appreciation, recognition, and bestowing honor?

One of the most simple. but meaningful, ways to acknowledge those around us is with a hand-written note. Our church staff has weaved this expression into the culture. I have witnessed the power of this upon one of our kids. She has saved the notes staff have written her, taping them up, covering the inside of her bedroom door. It us such a simple gesture, but so meaningful to get a personal note that says “I’m thinking of you.”

Acknowledging Outsiders

In 1 Corinthians 14:16 and 24 Paul coached the Corinthians to be cognizant of the outsiders who may enter their gatherings. Not everyone is an insider. People feel like outsiders that come to your church. We don’t realize this, because it is so familiar to us. They will not feel as though they belong unless they are made to.

One of the best opportunities to do this is in your sermons. If you were able to ask a person that visited your church who wasn’t a Christian how they feel being in a service, they would say like an intruder. That’s why it is so important to let them know you know they’re out there. In my sermon last Sunday I said in my introduction “This [topic] will apply whether you’re a Christian or not. So if you’re here and don’t put yourself in the religious camp, I think you’ll get as much out of this anyone else.” A simple acknowledgment let’s them know you know they’re there and makes them know they’re included, not intruding.

Acknowledging God

There’s a proverb that says, “In all your ways, acknowledge him. And he will direct your paths.” You know what I love about that proverb? The bar is so low. What you are asked to do is so simple: acknowledge God. It says to me that even God recognizes the power of acknowledgment. God promises direction if you’ll simply acknowledge what he might want. If you are willing to entertain the thought of “What would God say is the wise thing to do here?” then God will offer direction.

I think acknowledgment is the perfect spiritual discipline to teach new believers (and we might as well remind the old ones while we’re at it). This can be expressed in single words: “help”, “please”, “sorry”, “thanks”. God doesn’t need long explanations. God can use simple acknowledgments to direct people down the path he wants them to go.

Try It Out

You need to work your acknowledgment muscle in order for it to get stronger. Write a note to someone you’ve noticed doing a good job. Insert a paragraph in your next sermon just for the outsider. Toss up a simple acknowledgment to God for that thing you’re needing direction in. A little acknowledgment can go a long way.

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