In Practicing Affirmation, Sam Crabtree asserts that affirmation should be practiced by every Christian on a regular basis. The author begins the book by arguing for the importance of affirmation from both Christian and non-Christian perspectives. Crabtree points out that the Bible is replete with commands and examples of how encouraging words can be life-infusing and character-forming. Furthermore, he uses illustrations from his work and family to illustrate how praising noble attributes of those around him led to the increase of those attributes and greater rapport overall. Although the author promotes praise-giving, he is careful to point out that such encouragements are not intended to invoke feelings of self-satisfaction or pride but to help the receiver of the praise recognize how God is working in their lives to produce good fruit. Moreover, Crabtree points to common grace that God dispenses to non-believers to act in altruist ways as something that Christians should applaud while drawing attention to God as the source of true righteousness. Next, the author devotes the middle chapters of the book to defending the practice of affirmations against those who find encouraging words to be manipulative, insincere, or ineffective. To these arguments, the author firmly advocates that timely, authentic praise reinforce what is positive in others as appropriate and helpful so long as God is the One who receives the ultimate praise. In the closing chapters, Crabtree discusses how constructive praise that is God-honouring can be given effectively. In addition, the author provides a list of pragmatic steps and applications on how to encourage those in our homes, workplaces, and church.
I would recommend this book to all Christians as we are warned repeatedly in Scripture that the tongue in an incessant fountain of evil that poisons everything and everyone near and far. By observing and praising the commendable actions of those around us, we learn to tame our tongues by identifying how God is working in others to display His attributes in tangible ways. Moreover, by taking note of exemplary characteristics and actions in those around us, we grow in our own sanctification as we strive to put on these virtues in our own lives. Crabtree offers a balanced approach in urging readers to find the praiseworthy aspects of others’ words, behaviour, or actions but ensuring that God is the One who is ultimately glorified.