We all hunger for appreciation. Surveys have shown for years that in the workplace people will work harder for praise than they will for a raise. Yes, we all like raises, but what’s more important to the majority is to know that what they do or who they are matters to someone. It does to you, doesn’t it?

Many think, “Why work so hard if the only time the boss wants to see me is to chew me out?” That’s not motivating. That is de-motivating.

The same holds true in our marriages and in our families. If your mate has done something nice for you, maybe even a special favor, but you don’t say thank you in some way or even recognize the favor, it’s possible that it won’t be long until the niceness stops. Your spouse thinks, “Hey, if he/she doesn’t even notice it, why bother?”

Then before too long you probably come to the realization they have stopped doing those nice things for you so you start to complain and criticize them to get some action out of them. Unfortunately complaining, whining and criticizing gets the opposite reaction – again – it de-motivates them to want to take action.

In our family, for far too long, we were stingy with our appreciation, because we kept seeing things that were wrong rather than what was right. We decided to incorporate into our life the phrase – “If you nag, their shoulders sag, but if you praise, their shoulders raise.” Can’t you just picture that? Whether spouse to spouse, parent to child, coach to athlete, teacher to student, employer to employee, or whatever the situation – if you nag at people continuously, their shoulders sag, but if you praise them their shoulders raise. Another way of saying this is, “Their spirits raise.”

e made two changes in our family

First, we agreed to change our focus from seeing what was wrong in our marriage (and family) to what was right. Phil 4:8 (The Message) tells us how – “…you’ll do the best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst, the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse…do that and God, Who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies.”

Are you thinking on such things? Ask yourself during the day, “What is true about my spouse and children?” “In what way are they authentic?” “In what way are they gracious?” “What do I love best about them?” If we fill our minds with the best and praiseworthy things about our family members then that is what comes out of our mouths. Matt 15:18 teaches us, “…but the things that come out of the mouth, come from the heart.”

Secondly, we changed the way we extended our appreciation. So often we would say, “It’s good….BUT….” One little word – “but” – turned our appreciative remark into a criticism. Example: “It’s good you washed the dishes, thank you, BUT you didn’t dry them.” That wiped out all the good that was said. We learned a practical and positive way to get our point across and still show appreciation. Instead we used, “It’s good, thank you…NOW….” Example” “It’s good you washed the dishes, thank you. Now if you would dry them for me that would sure help me.” And depending on how corny and fun’ you are talking with and to each other, you could toss in, “…you fantastic person who I adore and who’ll get a big smooch when everything is done.” Well, you get the idea.

Changing one word from “but’ to now’ has made a big difference in the lives of our loved ones. That can be the same with yours.

Appreciation is something we all desire to hear from those we love. Sadly, far too many husbands, wives and children hunger’ for it since it’s rare they hear it. Be dedicated to daily filling your mind with praises and thanksgivings about your spouse – your children – other family members – and don’t forget your neighbors, co-workers – and daily say it to them. You are what you focus on. God will honor your mouth – your mind – your heart – and your soul.

The next few times you say BUT in the middle of a sentence we know you’ll be reminded of what you just read. That’ll be God’s conviction. Be thankful He loves you enough to convict you of this.

(And to be sure that you have Peace With God we would like to encourage you to visit www.billygraham.org and then click on Grow Your Faith followed by clicking on How To Know Jesus. You may want to share this link with family and friends.)

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