External Validation

Something that I think makes me the typical American male, is that I think I should be self reliant to the extreme.  I should not care what other people think.  I should be secure in my own self-image.  I should not need to ask for help.  Most of the time, that probably describes me well.  Sometimes to a fault.

Recently I was experiencing enough stress that I felt self-doubt in several parts of my life, most notably in my career and my seminary path.  On the day that I think I was feeling my lowest, I received feedback at work that what I was doing really mattered to some people.  Knowing that I was making a difference changed the tone of the rest of my week.  Later that same day I received feedback that there are several in my church who believe strongly in my seminary education.

It was nothing short of amazing how much of a difference these two events made in my mood, and in how I approached the days that followed.  Sometimes there is just no substitution for knowing that others believe in who you are and what you are doing.

One of my favorite quotes from Paul is Ephesians 4:29:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

The first part is easy – don’t say anything that will hurt someone.  But I had not previously looked upon this as more than just a prohibition.  It can also be a command to lift others up.

Thanks to all of those who believe in me and take the time to remind me.

Who do I need to reach out to and remind them that I believe in them?  There are several — I have some letters to write!


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