How To Show Appreciation

The apostle Paul said we should “encourage one another and build up one another” and “appreciate those who diligently labor among you” (1 Thessalonians 5:11-12, New American Standard Bible). Verse 12 refers to how we relate to our spiritual leaders, but it is a principle that can be applied to other relationships as well.

The right words can uplift and strengthen others (Proverbs 12:25; 16:24), and some of the most encouraging words of all are heartfelt appreciation. When we express this kind of sentiment, we are following the steps of Jesus Christ, who praised people when they did what was right (Matthew 15:28; Mark 14:6-9; Luke 7:9; 21:1-4).

The Bible includes many other examples of the power of appreciation:

  • Paul complimented the brethren in Rome, Colosse, Thessalonica and Corinth for their conduct.
  • Boaz commended Ruth for her kindness and devotion (Ruth 2:11-12; 3:10).
  • Jethro instructed his daughters to invite Moses to eat a meal with them to thank him for helping them (Exodus 2:16-20).
  • The Proverbs 31 woman was praised by her husband and children (verses 28-31).

We, too, should be thankful for the people in our lives and be willing to bestow praise when it is called for.

The No. 1 reason we should offer appreciation to others is that God’s Word tells us we should strive to be like Him—and showing appreciation is part of God’s unselfish nature. Beyond that, it’s also helpful to understand exactly how appreciation is beneficial to the giver and receiver. Here are some of the fruits of appreciation:

  • It makes others feel valued and loved. To tell someone, “I was impressed by your music performance,” or, “Thanks for your help; I couldn’t have finished the project without you,” and mean it, communicates to him or her that it was worthwhile, and that he or she is needed and wanted. We all want to know that our lives count and that we matter to someone.
  • It can inspire others to work harder, persevere and stay on the right path. When Paul expressed appreciation to the brethren, he knew he would be spurring them on and encouraging them to live godly lives. And when my editor pointed out what I was doing right, that gave me a resolve to not give up when the job got challenging.
  • It deepens the bonds between us and others. Psychologists tell us that when we express appreciation to other people, they appreciate us more, which amplifies those positive feelings. Connections between people strengthen when each person feels appreciated.
  • It takes the focus off of us, which keeps us grounded. God created us to need the help and support of others. Yet the natural human mind wants to exalt the self. As a culture, we tend to idolize the self-made man. These approaches make it harder to see what others have to offer. However, when we direct our attention to other people’s skills, talents, hard work and good ideas, it helps us remember how much we benefit from them and that we should celebrate others’ accomplishments—not just our own. This helps us develop a more godly approach when interacting with others.
  • It helps us stay positive. By trying to appreciate those around us, our demeanor improves. There is little room for gossip, backbiting or complaining when we’re focusing on others’ strengths—instead of zeroing in on their weaknesses. This is true even if we don’t verbalize our admiration. Just being more mindful of what there is to appreciate about others can put us in a thankful attitude and make us more pleasant to be around.
  • It creates harmony. Being appreciative can prevent tension and conflicts. We’re less likely to be frustrated or irritable with people when we’re truly thankful for them. One woman confided to me, “My husband has certain idiosyncrasies that really grate at me. When I find myself getting annoyed, I start thinking about all his good qualities, and that helps me keep things in perspective.”