“I met one of your former students at a party last night. We were talking about you,” wrote a friend of mine in an email. “He told me that you taught him to read.”

Immediately I could feel myself going through the time tunnel back to that event about 30 years ago. I had forgotten, but yes, it came back to me. He was a very bright first-grader, but he was easily distracted and struggled with his reading. I made a point to practice one-on-one with him, and in less than a month he was doing fine.

He remembered! If he had said, “She was a good teacher,” or “I enjoyed her class,” I would have smiled and thought How nice! But it was his specific appreciation over an achievement we shared that touched my soul. He remembered it fondly and was grateful, even enough to mention it to my friend 30 years later!

When I was a teacher, I saw that general appreciation—“You’re a great student!”—wasn’t as beneficial to the pupil as specific praise—“You showed a lot of imagination with the characters of your story.” “Your presentation is so neat and well designed.” “Beautiful choice of colors!” “I love that humorous detail in your picture.”

I’m part of an online embroidery group. We post our completed embroidery projects and comment on one another’s work. The replies that say “Beautiful” or “Lovely” are encouraging, but the comments that feel the best are the ones that mention the color choices, the type of stitches, or the composition.

We all love compliments, we thrive on praise, we want to be appreciated and recognized. And when this encouragement is specific, it’s as if someone had told us “I see the details, and I see you.” That makes us shine.

Have you met God’s Son? You can! You can open your heart to Jesus through a prayer and receive Him as your Savior—a prayer like this:

Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to earth and dying for me so I can be forgiven my sins, experience Your love here and now, and have the promise of eternal life in heaven. I open my heart and invite You in. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit and help me get to know You better through reading Your Word in the Bible. Amen.