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Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree

Practicing Affirmation (edition 2011)

by Sam Crabtree, John Piper (Foreword)

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148480,863 (4.19)None
Title:Practicing Affirmation
Authors:Sam Crabtree
Other authors:John Piper (Foreword)
Info:Crossway (2011), Kindle Edition, 178 pages
Collections:Your library, Christian & Philosophy, Digital

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Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God by Sam Crabtree



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One of my favorite books ever is Desiring God, by John Piper. That book was one of, if not the, first books I read that dealt explicitly with the idols of my life. One of the idols it dealt with was an unhealthy desire of approval from others and the damnable practice of worshipping anything other than God. Due to my own limitations and sinful tendencies, I took the truths presented in the book and swung to an extreme. Not wanting to seek man’s approval over God’s, I became almost incapable of receiving any type of praise from others. Along with that and not wanting to promote our “self-esteem”, everyone gets a trophy culture, I also became opposed to affirming other people. I felt no need to applaud someone when they did what they were supposed to do….I mean, they did what they were supposed to do. I had no idea that with these attitudes I was sinning.

God commands that we praise what is praiseworthy. Crabtree outlines in his text how we are to do that without it being idolatrous. He shows specifically how we can praise those who are not God in a way that honors God greatly. Essentially we are to affirm the image of God as a praise to God. Human beings are created in the image of God. So, when a person demonstrates a trait, a characteristic, an action, that reflects this image, it is not only appropriate, but essential, that we commend, praise and affirm this reflection. In doing so, we are praising God Himself, from whom every good thing flows. The key to proper affirmation, as opposed to idolatrous creature-worship, is who is the focus of the praise. If the praise is solely focused on the one exhibiting the good(the person) rather than the source of the good(our great God) than it is wrong.
When my child exhibits a Godly characteristic it is inappropriate for me to respond, “Will, you are such a good boy for taking care of your brother when he was sad.” In praising him this way, I ignore the source of his kind act and how it is a reflection of the character of God. So I would rather affirm Will by praising his act as a reflection of God’s character like, “Will, it was so kind of you to take care of your brother when he was sad. God is good and takes care of us when we are hurting and sad and I am so thankful to God to see Him working though you that way.”…or something like that. The key is where the praise is focused. Is it focused solely on the person and what they are doing, or is the focus on God and what He is doing in that person.
Crabtree also gets into some practical benefits of proper affirmation. Proper affirmation is a key to healthy relationships. There are numerous reasons for this that he gets into, but I want to point out that affirmation is not flattery. Also, God-centered affirmation allows us a hearing for the Gospel; it gives us common ground with unbelievers from which we will be able to share with them the Good News of God’s saving grace through His Son Jesus Christ. Affirmation also allows us to be a refreshment to other believers, encouraging and spurring others on to greater faith and holiness. On top of all of this, when we are constantly searching out ways to affirm God’s image in people, we begin to be much more likely to overlook the negative aspects of a person and focus on the positive. This has a very positive effect on our attitude towards others and allows us a greater desire and ability to show grace and mercy to those around us who may need it most.
Crabtree also includes three highly practical and very helpful chapters. Chapter 5- “Mistakes I Have Made”, Chapter 6-“Questions and Answers” and Chapter 9-“100 Affirmation Ideas For Those Who Feel Stuck” along with a couple of appendices to aid in understanding some particular nuances of affirmation.
Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree is a book that has ministered to me greatly. I praise God for the clarity and conciseness of this text. This book is one that every Christian needs to read and to put into practice. My prayer is that I can be a person that affirms the characteristics of God that I see in His image bearers. Glory and worship are to God and God alone, but that doesn’t preclude Him being praised and glorified through the creation He has created….and we would do well not to miss the opportunities to praise Him by affirming His work in His creation. ( )
  joshrskinner | Jul 30, 2014 |
An excellent book that covers the scriptural basis for praising others without engendering pride by focusing on praising their character rather than things over which they have little or no control. ( )
  jeremiahstover | Dec 23, 2012 |
My husband used to tell me that I ought to purchase books printed on yellow paper in order to save the highlighter. I have since resorted to marking books with pens or pencils so that I can write notes liberally in the margins as thoughts or questions arise. However, Practicing Affirmation is a book that could easily have been printed on yellow paper. I marked almost every page of this book (most often in hearty agreement with the author ;). With endorsements by John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, this is no surprise.

While there are many books on the market that focus on encouraging and praising others, I think there are a number of characteristics that make this book unique, God-honoring, and worthwhile. Most importantly, Sam Crabtree's emphasis throughout the book is on God's glory. "God is glorified in us when we affirm the work he has done and is doing in others" (pg. 12). Mr. Crabtree urges readers to word their commendation of others carefully so that it "steals nothing from the glory of God..." (pg. 15).

Furthermore, Crabtree makes an appropriate and important distinction between God-centered affirmation and man-centered affirmation:

"Western culture's emphasis on self-esteem has resulted in a yawning response to the gospel. The main problem the gospel solves is God's wrath toward sinners, but if one's inflated self esteem is telling him he's not all that bad really, then why is God so uptight" (pg. 94)?

Crabtree writes: "...affirmation, especially if it isn't God-centered, can have a hardening effect" (pg. 95). In many ways, our words can be used to draw others toward God or to push them away. Crabtree explains that affirmation is a means to the end of proclaiming the Gospel and that we gain a hearing from others when we are not constantly negative.

There is much more that could be said about this book. In sum, Practicing Affirmation is insightful and practical. The final chapter lists "100 Affirmation Ideas for Those Who Feel Stuck." This is a helpful tool. You may realize that you are already doing a lot of the things on the list as most of them aren’t hard or time-consuming. If you want to learn “how to refresh people with affirmations that are explicitly Christ-honoring” (pg. 133), this book is an excellent place to begin. Sam Crabtree helps the reader understand that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue…" (Proverbs 18:21). What you say matters! ( )
  mejerrymouse | Apr 21, 2011 |
Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree is a wonderful and insightful book. In it, the author addresses the importance of affirming others and gives practical advice on how to do so. This is not a book on self esteem. Rather, as the subtitle says, it is about the God-centered praise of those who are not God. Affirmation is about recognizing the attributes and characteristics of God in people and then pointing them out in such a way that centers on and glorifies God.

The author's style is awkward at times and some of the sentences are clumsy. If you use the Scriptural index, you will need to be aware that all of the references are off by four pages. It seems that the book could have used some extra time with the editor. ( )
  AaronFenlason | Mar 11, 2011 |
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