Lately, I’ve been thinking about Gary Chapman’s 5 love language, specifically how it pertains to volunteer care. Recently, we were discussing this with a couple of our retreat teams. My main love language is “words of affirmation”. As I’ve reflected on this, I’ve noticed there are two kinds of affirmations that typically happen.

One is more subjective. This usually is an intentional statement made in an effort of affirmation. e.g. “I deeply value your opinion.” These kinds of statements offer more of an opinion (a positive one at that) from the sender. It usually relates back to themselves or a group of people (e.g. “You are a key member of this team”). These are statements people intentionally want to express as their gratitude to the individual.

The other can be considered more objective. It is usually said in passing vs as an intentional affirmation. The sender isn’t necessarily trying to affirm the receiver but is making a statement of fact. e.g. “Your work made sure our project is on schedule.”

Both have their place and a person with this love language would prize either one. I’ve realized, for myself, I tend to value the latter more than the former because the sender is affirming indirectly my contribution. Don’t get me wrong: I deeply value when a person makes an intentional affirming statement. I find the appreciation much deeper when it’s said more in passing.