We appreciate what a person does, but we affirm who a person is. Appreciation comes and goes because it is usually related to something someone accomplishes. Affirmation goes deeper. It is directed to the person himself or herself. While encouragement would encompass both, the rarer of the two is affirmation. To be appreciated, we get the distinct impression that we must earn it by some accomplishment. But affirmation requires no such prerequisite. This mean that even when we don’t earn the right to be appreciated (because we failed to succeed or because we lacked the accomplishment of some goal), we can still be affirmed – indeed, we need it then more than ever. I do not care how influential or secure or mature a person may appear to be, genuine encouragement never fails to help. Most of us need massive doses as we slug it out in the trenches.
Charles Swindoll, Strengthening Your Grip