APPRECIATION DEFICIT DISORDER: Is It a Thing?
May is the month for Teacher Appreciation Week and rightfully so! By now the school year is coming to a close, and a little appreciation goes a long way. Teacher Appreciation Week used to conjure up mixed emotions for me. As a teacher, I was grateful for the accolades, but deep down I wondered why appreciation was saved for one week of the year. There were plenty of times during the school year when a simple “thank you” would have helped. I felt ashamed for going there in my head. Maybe I was suffering from Appreciation Deficit Disorder. I’m fairly certain there is no such thing, but when appreciations are few and far between, we may catch ourselves brushing off comments of gratitude as insincere or obligatory.
Educators are servants at heart, often putting others’ needs above our own. Serving is what we do and, more importantly, what we are called to do as believers (1 Peter 4:10). This got me thinking. Is it wrong to want a little appreciation every now and then? My initial response to this question was “Of course not!” However, the more I reflect on this question, the more I find myself landing in that grey area of it depends.
Because God is good and because God is love, it seems He would want us to feel appreciated. Why else would we read these Scriptures breathed out by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17)?
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25
It’s pretty obvious by reading these verses that we all would benefit from being appreciated. Who doesn’t want to be built up and encouraged? There is no doubt that we need it! Do you find, though, it is sometimes easier to show appreciation than to receive it? Appreciation is a good thing, but the reason I said it depends earlier is there is a big difference between enjoying appreciation from others and needing or craving appreciation.
Appreciation Deficit Disorder could become a thing for us if the need to be validated by others overshadows the Lord’s appreciation, which must be our first priority. Man’s accolades will always leave us wanting more, striving for the wrong things, and feeling as if we are never good enough. As believers, God didn’t create us for man’s approval. All we need is His approval. This all sounds good, but how can we enjoy appreciation from others without needing it? How can we avoid Appreciation Deficit Disorder? Protect yourself with these three truths.
1. GOD SEES.
Never leave God out of the equation.
In Genesis 16, Hagar said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
In 1 Samuel, God said, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart.”
In Job 34, Elihu told Job, “God’s eyes are on the ways of man and He sees all his steps.”
In Hebrews 4, we are reminded, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.”
We must remember God is always present. Nothing escapes His notice. When nobody says “thank you,” God sees. When everybody says “thank you,” God sees. Yes, it feels good to be appreciated, but when appreciation is missing, you can rest assured God sees. When appreciation is expressed (sincere or not), you can enjoy it without needing it because GOD SEES!
2. GOD REWARDS.
Which is more important? Praise from people or eternal rewards? We all know the answer to this question. However, sometimes it is difficult to press on when you feel unappreciated. I have to confess that a $10 Starbucks card sure comes in handy when I’m running low on fumes. While my cup of caffeine may make me feel appreciated and boost my energy level, the reward is temporary. I will probably need it again tomorrow. Man’s rewards are temporal. God’s rewards are not only eternal but promised.
In Matthew 6 Jesus says, “Your Father, who sees in secret will reward you.”
In Colossians 3 Paul claims, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul promises when we are steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, we can be assured our labor is never wasted.
Boaz told Ruth, “May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” And God did!
God sees, and God rewards. John Piper phrased it this way: “When we train our hearts not to expect the ‘thank you,’ it becomes all the sweeter. Our true reward is being stored up in heaven.”
3. GOD SATISFIES.
To be satisfied means we are not yearning for something else. Social media and unrelentless advertising today are designed to destroy our satisfaction and make us think we need more than what we have. In addition, the ongoing messages that educators are underappreciated can fuel a bad case of Appreciation Deficit Disorder! Being content may seem like an impossibility, but the Bible says we can experience contentment as we grow in good deeds and Godliness (1 Timothy 6:6). Satisfaction really has nothing to do with being appreciated. There is no place in Scripture where this is more evident than in the Psalms.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. Psalm 17:15
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14
For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. Psalm 107:9
You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. Psalm 145:16
Contentment and satisfaction rest in God alone. We don’t have to rely on human beings to fill the empty space in our heart that wants to feel appreciated. God remains the strength of our hearts, and as the psalmist says, “He is mine forever!” (Psalm 73:25-26).
We all can enjoy Teacher Appreciation Week with no chance of Appreciation Deficit Disorder creeping in when we remember three important truths.
Have a great week!