We had the most delightful evening last night with three of my heroes — Sue DeYoung, Grace Attema, and Mary Lipscomb. They are the teachers of two of my children, a kindergartener that is full of energy, and a fourth grader who is becoming quite the young man.
When we moved to Minnesota three and a half years ago we didn’t know anyone. It was pretty lonely. As a way to get to know the people that were impacting our children the most, Cyndi, my incredible wife, decided to invite our kid’s teachers over for an elegant dinner, gifts, and a time of affirmation. This is the fourth school year that we’ve been able to do this, and to be honest, I look forward to this evening as much as any holiday.

We pull out all of the stops on this evening. The china comes out of the cabinet, the tablecloth covers the marker stained kitchen table, and our kids help us prepare the meal. They pick what we eat, what we drink, and they pick something else too — how they will affirm their teachers.

I had tears in my eyes last night as I listened to two of my sons share what they loved about their teachers. I watched a tear stream down my wife’s face as she told Mrs. Lipscomb, who has been teaching for over 30 years about the impact that she has had on Christopher’s life. And I watched tears well up in the eyes of three incredible women as they were affirmed — showered with little gifts (candles, lotion, candy, a plant) and a huge gift (AFFIRMATION).

At the conclusion of our time, it was Mrs. Lipscomb who said, “Affirmation is so important. If we don’t get it, we become narcissitic, and start to give it to ourselves. We all need to be affirmed.” She then talked about a box that she has kept on her desk for years. The box must be a treasure to her, for it holds notes of affirmation from various students and parents that she has worked with over the years. She said that when she gets discouraged she opens that box and reads one of those letters.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you work as a teacher. I know I feel it as a youth pastor from time to time. And that’s why Mary is one of my heroes. 30+ years in the classroom! She may have thought that we encouraged her on her little visit to our home, but I assure you what she’s done in the life of Chris, and what Mrs. DeYoung and Mrs. Attema have done in the life of Jeremy far outweigh one night of affirmation.

Have you affirmed someone lately? You know you love it when someone does it for you. Now, go do it for someone else.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:8-10

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