Since 1995, Gary Chapman’s theory of the five love languages has helped bring people together, inspiring attentiveness and clarity when it comes to expressing our feelings. According to Chapman, there are five main love languages and a person will feel the most loved when they are served according to their love language. The five love languages are:
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
In this five-part series, we will take a closer look at how each of these love languages can be used to minister to others in our sphere of influence. Consider this quote from Sydney S. Reynolds, former First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency:
“The Lord … knows who we are and where we are, and He knows who needs our help.”
To truly minister as Jesus Christ would, we need to know those we serve. This can only come through diligent seeking and investment. Our Heavenly Father knows how we need to be cared for, looked after, loved. Learning more about how to utilize someone’s love language can help us receive inspiration on how to minister.
How Do I Find Out Someone’s Love Language?
Before we dive in, here are a few tips on how to discern someone’s love language.
- Ask them! Love languages are popular and there is a good chance they’ve taken the test.
- Encourage them to take the test online.
- Observe how someone serves others. How they serve is most often how they would love to be served.
- Try different ways of serving based on the love languages and see what they respond to.
It is important to remember many love languages overlap; don’t become stressed about trying to force your ideas and inspiration into a certain set of guidelines or examples.
Words of Affirmation
Here is what it means if words of affirmation is your primary love language:
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.
Now that we understand more about what words of affirmation can mean to others with this love language, we are going to take a closer look at how we can use words of affirmation to minister.
Scriptural Examples of Words of Affirmation
Throughout the scriptures, Jesus Christ used simple and plain language to express love for his followers. He frequently called them his friends and spoke of his feelings. Consider this scripture from the gospel of John:
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
We also learn through the scriptures that using kind and uplifting language is an important commandment. In Proverbs we learn:
Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
Even the scriptures themselves and the words of living prophets and apostles can be seen as words of affirmation from a loving God who longs to communicate with us.
A Few Rules About Words of Affirmation
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’d like to harness the power of words of affirmation to serve others.
- You need to be absolutely genuine in what you say. Lip service and true words of affirmation are not the same things. Do not lie just to be nice or say things you don’t mean or believe.
- Even though they love to hear the words, some people aren’t always comfortable accepting them. Don’t feel bad or get annoyed if others don’t know how to respond or even disagree when you give a compliment or say something nice. Just reaffirm your love and don’t press the issue.
- Do all you can to offer up your words of affirmation in the present. Noticing things at the moment will be a signal you are actively paying attention to and caring about someone.
Using Words of Affirmation to Minister to Others
The words we speak have more impact than we may realize. As we seek to minister using words of affirmation, we can receive inspiration and guidance.
God often speaks to our hearts and minds through the power of the Holy Ghost. We can use this same power to know what to say and when to say it. Whether we have been praying on how to better use our words to serve or have only a split-second moment, inspiration can be ours.
Words also don’t have to be spoken. We can use writing, singing, and even technology to express our words. However, nothing can replace a face-to-face interaction.
- Here are a few practical ideas to use words of affirmation in your ministering efforts:
- Never let a Sunday go by without saying something kind to the person you would like to minister to. Always seek them out and say hello at the very least. If they are not at church, send them a text or message on social media.
- Write down all the reasons you’ve appreciated someone this past week and look for opportunities to share your feelings.
- Give someone a “heart attack” by posting hearts with little notes on their door.
- Write a thank you note to those who speak in sacrament and give it to them.
- Express gratitude for someone in prayer when you are with them.
Is your love language hearing words of affirmation? Let us know your ideas on how to minister. Check back next week for the next installment in this series.