How do you feel when you are praised at home, at your place of work, or in your church for a job well done? How do you feel when you do excellent work at the office and your boss never thanks you or recognizes you for your achievement? You wonder whether you are invisible.
You know you matter to God. You hope that you are valued by those with whom you work or live. But you rarely hear those words which lift your spirits. In contrast there are others who really appreciate you. They shower you with praise and affirmation. They never take you for granted.
I worked with someone for many years. I did outstanding legal work. Not once did this person thank me for my contributions. In contrast I praised my co-worker countless times. Frankly, that hurt.
It was graduation day at Cy-Fair High School. The road was long getting there. After polio, I had spent a year in first grade at Hedgecroft Hospital. Next, I was a home-bound student for five years while I received physical therapy in the mornings five days a week. In the afternoons Dorothy Carlton came to my house. She taught me lessons. I did my homework assignments. She made sure I earned the gold stars she placed on my completed and graded papers.
Over the next six years at Dean Junior High and Cy-Fair High School I navigated the social and architectural challenges a wheelchair bound student faced. I had amazing support from my teachers, parents, and school administrators. I still had to do the work myself. Often, I was absent from school because of sickness. Repeated bouts of pneumonia. Four major orthopedic surgeries.
Without the praise of others, I would never have been at my graduation ceremony. I would never have had the courage to get out of my wheelchair and walk with my brother Charles across the stage to be handed the diploma.
Before entering the Auditorium, I was tired from standing so long. I leaned against a glass door to rest. One of my classmates opened the door. I fell backwards onto the floor. Charles lifted me to my feet and said, “Bubba, let me get you up. Let’s get going. It’s the day you’ve been waiting for.”
Charles held me by my right arm. We walked down the aisle together. It was not the most graceful march. I ignored the onlookers. At the end of the aisle, I stood in front of the five steps which led to the Stage.
Step by step Charles helped me up to the Stage. Looking to my left I saw T. S (“Sial”) Hancock, School Superintendent handing out diplomas. He saw me and smiled. As he stood holding my diploma, he never lost sight of me as I limped across the Stage. As Sial handed me the diploma he said, “Jack, I am so proud of you. I know how hard you’ve worked to earn this. Congratulations and good luck in your future.” Those words are still wringing in my ears. They were not silenced that night. Nor were they forgotten in 1996 when Sial graduated to God’s school of higher learning of heavenly and eternal love.
I was proud of my Cy-Fair diploma. Yet, that diploma has had far less significance in my life than the impact of Sial’s praise and acknowledgement. The fact that he valued me increased my self-worth. Sial’s words have encouraged me every day to believe in myself, to pursue my dreams, to ignore those who were my doubters, and to affirm that my example will help others do the same.
In many ways Sial’s words were God’s way of saying to me, “My son, you are as important to me as any other of my children. I have a special purpose for you every day on Earth.”
God has spoken in Scripture as to the importance of praise.
Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.
Let us pray.
Dear God, I have been taught to always praise You. I know that I serve You when I praise someone else for Your sake. In Your name.
God, please help me find ways and opportunities to praise others as an example of common kindness You showed the world. Whether sinner or saint, You set an example for me to be like You. I can honor and glorify You by acknowledging the worth and value in others.
God, help me praise others who are different than me, even others who are not Christian but are Christ-like. I know I will be rewarded by You when I find ways to praise others. By applauding them for doing something good in the strength and gifts You gave them.
Last, God, may I not be blind to the light which shines in others. When I see and praise their good works, I praise You. I see You. I affirm You and Your presence in all things and in all people.
If you think Jack’s prayer helps you or will help someone you know, please forward it to them. Jack may never make millions selling books or writing prayers, but spreading God’s good news to others is reward enough for him.
Ann Boland, Jack’s Publicist