Joyce Landorf wrote a book about the gift of affirmation. In “Balcony People” she noted that you can find two kinds of people in the world: evaluators and affirmers. Evaluators tend to criticize, focus on the negative, offer judgment. Affirmers are more likely to point out the positive, emphasize good qualities and behavior, offer healing and hope.
Landorf contrasted balcony people with basement people … people who lift us up or bring us down. We know both kinds. There are really two sets of questions we should address:
- Who are the people around us who reach us out of the balcony or from the basement? What kind of influence do they have on us? What kind of influence do we allow them to have?
- Which one am I? Am I a balcony type or a basement type? Am I more likely to evaluate or affirm?
Another image is that of a large container that represents our lives. Think of those in our lives who fill our containers and those who drain them. We can be depleted by those who only take, who are always needy, who rob us of emotional energy. At the same time, there are those who energize and empower us, those who add value to us, those who believe in and encourage us.
Let’s make this personal. I wish I could always be a balcony kind of guy. I would love to always affirm, always encourage, always fill up the lives around me. Because I’m a sinner, I can be selfish, critical, grumpy … the list grows.
I need help. Don’t you? I’m glad I’m not in this alone. Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). I’d rather live and lead from the balcony. The One who looks at me through eyes of grace and love can help me do the same with others.