A surprisingly difficult aspect of the Christian life is accepting and receiving compliments. It’s not that we don’t appreciate compliments or find them encouraging. But there is a danger of basing our identity upon them, or simply receiving them in the wrong way. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how to receive compliments better. Here are 4 keys I've discovered:
1) Listen and Give Glory to God
This can be challenging, especially when you are attempting not to sound dismissive or flippant. It is important to thank the person after they have given you a compliment, even if you don’t feel it is deserved. Clearly they made the effort to say something, so thank them for taking the time to do so. The second part can be a bit strange to say if you’re not used to giving God all the glory, but as a Christian, this should always be part of our response. After all, only through Him do we have the ability to do anything and everything (Acts 17:28). Our response doesn’t have to be routine or reactionary. This response should be heartfelt and propelled by the glory of God rather than the praise of men. Often times I’ll do this by saying, “Thank you for your kind words,” or “I appreciate what you said.” Insincerity is easily read by people. So, if you can say it sincerely, you might follow by saying “all praise be to God for His great work” or something similar.
2) View Compliments as Encouragement
Sometimes compliments are affirmations of your character or accomplishments. View it not as others praising you but as seeing God at work in and through you. In other words, perceive this as evidence that God is at work and using you. Compliments then become opportunities to celebrate the God of all grace, who has saved you, is sanctifying you, and will one day glorify you.
3) Don't Diminish Compliments
Receiving compliments is difficult. At times we can be inundated by people saying they appreciate one thing or another that we’ve done. This can be hard to accept when you feel like your work has been less than stellar, or it felt too routine to be praiseworthy. That said, determine to be truly thankful that others take the time to say a kind word. The goal is to remain gracious and let your responses be seasoned with the love of Christ.
4) Speak the Truth in Love
As Christians we should speak words of grace and truth to one another (1 Peter 3:15). The words we use are a reflection of what is in our hearts. This means that if we are going to criticize others -- whether in private or in public -- we should be swift to praise them as well. There is no room for a double standard. As Christians we are to love one another and show it in practical ways. Compliments are one way to praise and celebrate the work of God’s grace in each other’s lives for His glory.
Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, and the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine. He and his wife, Sarah, are members of Ustick Baptist Church in Boise, Idaho, where they serve in a variety of ministries. Dave received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on twitter @DaveJJenkins. Find him on Facebook or read more of his work at servantsofgrace.org.