Eugene Cho

homework for the weekend: validation


This is the first time I’m giving people “homework” via this blog but here goes.  First, trust me and watch this 15 minute video entitled Validation. It’s worth each minute.  Some folks may think this short film is simply to…well…simplistic and humanistic but let’s not overcomplexify things:  We all need validation.

As followers of Christ, we know that the gospel is more than just mere encouragement, happy feelings, positive therapy and…validation, but don’t make the mistake of forgetting how each of us really need to be affirmed, encouraged, and validated in our lives.  For us, the ultimate validation comes from knowing the truth that God created us, loves us, reconciles us, and is at work to restore us…to God and to the world. Because God loved us first, we are now validated to love God and to love Neighbors.  The cross of Christ reconciles and once more, proclaims that validation.

What do you think of the short film below?

In our world of growing cynicism, it’s far easier to share what you are against rather than live for what you are for. It’s far easier to cut down others rather than build people up.  It’s good to know where our ultimate validation comes from but this film reminds me not to underestimate how we often receive glimpses of God’s shalom through human relationships.

And that leads me now to the second portion of our collective homework.  It’s more an invitation as you enter this weekend:

Share with others – spouse, friends, family, siblings, neighbors, co-workers, customers, employees, congregants, pastors, strangers, grocery food baggers, and so on – a word of VALIDATION.  Don’t expect anything back.  Smile genuinely and share a few words of encouragement and validation.

Thank you.  No…really…thank you.  [As I’m giving you an e-hug…] I want to remind you:

God loves you.

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18 Responses

  1. josh says:

    I saw this video couple months ago and absolutely loved the movie. It’s not just a feel good film but shows our impact to the lives of others.

  2. Thanks for the reminder, Eugene.

    Neat video. I’ve noticed that often people will not accept validation – responding not as the people in the video do, by internalizing it, but rather by basically turning the compliment away with some negative comment about either the thing complimented or some parallel thing. So, in addition to giving out validation, I’d encourage everyone to accept it graciously, too.

  3. eugenecho says:

    @bibliophilist: hmm. i think you just indirectly outed me. i didn’t think of that when i was watching the video but after your reading your comment, i realized (and confess) that receiving validation is the more difficult thing for me to do.

  4. Oh I cried so hard. So embarrassing to do that in a cafe.

  5. justin says:

    two thumbs up.

  6. Maxine says:

    What a great film. I am such a “words” person and wholeheartedly agree how important it is to not only give words but receive them fully. To even practice speaking what we know to be true by God’s Word, even when we don’t believe it (YET!) is so important and healing.

  7. don bryant says:

    I am a sucker for stuff like this. Thanks so much.

  8. Jenny says:

    Thank you for posting this, Eugene. What a wonderful film! We do all need validation in our lives. May we smile and bring smiles this weekend!

  9. Mike levitt says:

    Thank you very much for posting this. Will definitely share this with others. I love homework like this!

  10. Bill says:

    Thanks. A family Friday night was spent watching and smiling. You are a pastor to a community far and wide. Keep doing work!

  11. Penny Hunter says:

    Man, Eugene … thanks for posting this. It has been a theme of discussion in our house the past couple of years. Zach has been concerned that his generation is in what he calls a “kindness drought” where majoring in snarkiness and criticism are badges of honor. However, we know that’s not unique to his generation. Posted his chapter on Kindness from Generation Change. Kind of long – so delete if it’s taking up too much space. Peace to you – and gratefulness for all you do. By the way, should I mention what great hair you have?!

    “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”
    Albert Schweitzer

    A lot of the material in this book addresses massive global problems that have serious consequences. So kindness might seem trivial. But I wanted to include it because I think we have a shortage of kindness in Western culture today. You might even want to call it a kindness drought. And I think that has a huge effect on our world.
    While responding to problems like hunger, homelessness, and the need for clean water might require significant planning and coordination, kindness is something we can practice every day. Kindness can become a habit that will improve not only the lives of those around us but also our own lives. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health showed a direct connection between people being kind and their own happiness. Kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22), yet I don’t think most of us act it out consistently in our daily lives.
    Drivers cut other people off in trafficeven when they’re rushing to get into the church parking lot for the prized parking space. Students hurry through the lunch line and grab several desserts, leaving others without any. We let doors slam in one another’s faces. We don’t hold the elevator for someone with baggage. We don’t ask for forgiveness when we’ve wronged someone elseinstead we excuse our behavior and say the other person is too sensitive and needs to get over it.
    We need to be kinder. I need to be kinder.
    By showing kindness to others, we acknowledge that every person is created in the image of God and deserves to be treated like they matter. Ultimately, God’s kindness toward us should move us to show kindness to others.

    Change It: Tootsie Rolls and Starbucks
    I have several friends who have really shown me what kindness is. For them, kindness is not just a “sometimes thing”it is a habit. I believe their kindness is proof of God’s Spirit living within them.
    One of these people is my Uncle Tedor TJ as others call him. He’s sort of an adopted uncle for me. Uncle Ted is pushing 80 years old, but lives “younger” than most people my age. He’s one of those people who’s always giving and thinking about others. He loves Tootsie Rolls, and wants you to love them too, so he gives them out liberally. Uncle Ted always wants to buy you ice cream wherever you go. In restaurants, he often tells the waiter or waitress, “Whatever they pay you, you’re worth more.” My dad says that whenever he went into Uncle Ted’s office, Ted would look up and tell my dad, “The answer is ‘yes.’ Now what do you want?” He lives out kindness in his day-to-day life. I truly believe he’d do whatever he could to help someoneanyone. Man, I’d like to be like him.
    Some people think that being “nice” is somehow not “manly.” You know, it’s the “no more Mr. Nice guy” idea. Well, if nice is synonymous with kind, then I think these people have got it all wrong. Kindness should be growing like crazy among God’s people.
    When I visited Hillsong Church in Australia, our host Joel Bennett modeled kindness for us. Joel graciously asked what my mom and I wanted to do while we were there, and then took us to all the points of interest in Sydney, and took us shopping for Australian candy and clothes. We had a lot of great experiences with Joel, and Joel and I had some great conversations about the Bible. He shared experiences with us, helped us make memories, and he served us. His kindness and openness provided the grounds for a lasting friendship.
    I have another friend named Justin Mayo. He’s a twenty-something guy who lives in Los Angeles at the L.A. DreamCenter. The DreamCenter is a place where people can come in off of the streets and start their lives over. Justin lives in the DreamCenter, but commutes to various places in the city to lead Red Eye, a ministry he started to reach out to young people involved in entertainment, fashion, and other culture-shaping communities in Hollywood to demonstrate love and acceptance to them. I think Justin wakes up in the morning (or maybe he just dreams all night) thinking of ways he can be kind to others. Whether it’s paying for someone’s drink at Starbucks or driving a guest around so he won’t have to take a cab, Justin is all about serving, serving, serving. Justin had me out to speak to the group at Red Eye, and I’m privileged to partner with him in his ministry. After the event, there was food left over, so Justin walked up to this homeless man and introduced himself, shaking the guy’s hand and asking him about himself. Then Justin offered the food to the guy.
    Justin is one of the wildest, most amazing guys you’ll ever meet. But he’s also one of the kindest. Kindness just flows from him.
    If kindness is something you really struggle with, ask God to help you empty yourself of your own desires and selfishness and fill you with his Spirit. Since kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, a life lived in step with God and his Spirit will produce more kindness.

    Change It: Your Turn
    I think our generation needs to be deliberate about kindness. Forget about the “random acts”let’s plan to be kind. Let’s decide we want kindness to be a habit. This requires focusing less on our own wants and needs and more on those of other people. If we became a kinder generation, I think we’ll see a huge shift in our homes, our schools, and our culture.
    It might sound dramatic, but your kindness could even end up saving a life. Paying someone a little bit of respect and attention could mean the world to that person. Let’s get started. What do you say?

    Brainstorm for Change
    OK, here are a few ideas for how you can make the world a better place by bringing a little more kindness. None of them are earth-shattering ideas, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. I’m sure you can come up with some of your own.
    • Find one kind thing you can do this week for someone you struggle to get along with.
    • Make a cup of coffee or tea for a member of your family tonight.
    • Hold a door open for someone.
    • Ask if you can help someone carry a heavy load. The person may decline, but just the offer will communicate kindness.
    • When you visit a bank, grocery store, or other business, ask the people working there how they are doing, and let them know you appreciate their efforts.
    • Compliment someone at your school who doesn’t receive a lot of affirmation.
    • Send a text message to tell a friend what you appreciate about him or her.
    • Mow a lawn. Rake some leaves. Clean the bathroom. Without complaining or being asked.
    You can get more ideas at

    A study on kindness showed that kind people experience more happiness and have happier memories.
    Simply by counting acts of kindness for one week, people feel happier and more grateful. (National Institute of Health)
    “I think our generation needs to be deliberate about kindness.”

  12. stephanie says:

    YES> I love this homework!! 😀

  13. minna says:

    hiya PE this was the best homework assignment that i’ve ever had! it was a gentle reminder of the power behind words. one thing that i have struggled with for a very long time (and actually many many korean girls that i’ve talked with) is that it is very difficult for me to receive validation/compliments at face value. it’s never just a simple “thank you”, but rather a long explantion of why i don’t really deserve it or that it’s no big deal. working on it .. hoping to be more gracious to both give and receive validation when it comes my way!
    e-hug back at you!

  14. chad m says:

    thought of this video all weekend…it helped me survive a night with junior high students on a confirmation reatreat…sweet!

  15. your friend says:

    I wish I had read this earlier, before preparing for my sermon.

    When I stood in front of the congregation today and said, YOU ARE PRECIOUS, YOU ARE GOD’S BELOVED, sooo many faces lit up!

    Only those two sentences, dearly meant and underlined with examples how I appreciate my congregation, made all the difference today.

    Keep spreading the light, Eugene!

  16. Did you just say “overcomplexify”? That’s awesome. I love making up words.

    I must say, at first I thought it was hokey… but after a little while I got sucked in.

    Words of affirmation are always welcome in my world, and I’m getting better at giving them as well as receiving them.

  17. Don Bryant says:

    Posting again on this. I actually showed the video in church this last Sunday with a Mother’s Day application. A wonderful experience. Just before the service before anyone had seen the video I went up to a lady in our church who has a troubled history with her children and is in deep hurt, especially on special occasion days. I just went up to her and said, “You are great!” She looked at me, her eyes welled up with tears and she melted in my arms. The congregation is still buzzing. People get it and intuitively know that this kind of response to people would change the world, or at least their worlds.

  18. eugenecho says:

    @don bryant: wow. that made my week. thanks for sharing.

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One Day’s Wages

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the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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