A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. (Prov. 25:11)

SOME CHILDREN ACHE to hear affirmation from a parent.

Lee Strobel’s father died when Lee was in law school. He flew back home for the wake and sat by himself next to a wall. One by one his father’s friends stopped to greet him, saying things like, “Are you Wally’s son? Oh, he was so proud of you. He used to brag about you all the time. When you went off to Yale Law School, he was just thrilled. When you’d have a byline in the Tribune, he was always showing it to everybody. He couldn’t stop talking about you! You were such an important part of his life.”

Lee sat there stunned because he’d had no idea his father felt that way. He had never said these things to Lee, who literally had to wait until his father was dead to find out how his dad had felt about him. He could not help but wonder what it would have done to their relationship if his father had told him some of those things while they still had time together.

In the circle of your influence, whom should you affirm? A child, a spouse, a friend? If you love them, feel grateful for them, do they know it? Call them, go for coffee, or write to them and let them know how you feel.

Speak an apt word to someone today. Who knows? You might change a life.

Ron McClung works at his denomination’s world headquarters and lives in Fishers, Indiana, with his wife, Carol. They have two sons and nine grandchildren.