Thursday, February 24, 2011

Be Gracious...

*Disclaimer--I am in no way admonishing fellow bloggers or readers.  These thoughts are ones that I feel convicted by, and am trying to grow and learn in my daily walk.  Let's be honest friends.  I'm trying to effect change in my life, and I'm taking you, the reader, along for the ride.--Now we will resume your regularly scheduled programming.

Accepting praise, compliments and encouragement has always been difficult for me.  I readily give praise, but don't receive it well.  Most often I feel I am unworthy or undeserving of the giver's praise, or have difficulty believing that I could possibly possess that which they are expressing. 

My response to a person's kindness is usually a 'thank-you' followed by a big but... 

 "Thank you, but I made a mistake." 
"Thank you, but 'so-in-so' is so much better."
"Thank you, but it's really not that good."
"Thank you, but I really don't deserve it."
"Thank you, but..."

I responded in this way for years, lowering my head, and mumbling "Thank you, but..." believing that I should not accept praise, or that by doing so, I was not being humble.

Maybe it was my mom, or a well-meaning friend, or another wise woman, but, I finally heard someone say, "When a praise or compliment is given, receive it with graciousness.  Do not dismiss the compliment or the giver.  Receive it, own it, and be thankful for the kind words and the giver."

After hearing that, I realized that it's okay to graciously receive a compliment by thanking the giver and recognizing their heartfelt kindness.  In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul reminds them of the importance of encouragement:

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
                                                                           1 Thessalonians 5:11

 I learned that excusing or begrudgingly accepting praise is not gracious.  Receiving praise with conceit or pride isn't gracious either.  It is important to receive praise with a tender heart, without letting conceit or pride corrupt it.  The Bible tells us to receive praise with caution:

"For I say through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith."
                                                                           Romans 12:3

It is still difficult for me to receive praise.  But, I am working to receive the praise, believe it, and be thankful for it.  It is possible to take great joy in receiving praise while being gracious and remembering that, "Every good and perfect gift comes from above..." James 1:17


Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

This is hard to do! I have a friend who is TERRIBLE at receiving compliments, so much so that it's become an ongoing joke. If I say, "Your hair looks cute today!" she'll respond with a crazy comment like, "Really? I haven't washed it in a MONTH!" We laugh, but it really is an issue for so many women - including me. Good reminder, Nik.

Rachel said...

I am the exact same way! My parents and the hubs finally told me to just say thank you and accept praise because they mean it. it took a while, but it's made life a lot better. and i actually can take the praise, believe it, and have it bolster me up. thanks for sharing your inspiration on this subject

Iowa Sunshine said...

Nikki - I love your concept of being gracious and using the "but" can even feel invalidating to the complimenting person. I tend to say what I did wrong before I serve a meal (point out burnt spot, etc), just in case it doesn't taste "perfect," and I'm learning to serve it with a smile :) I'm going to use the verses you selected for a devotion next week!

Nikki said...

Mary, Rachel and I.S.--Thank you for taking the time to comment! I say this without a 'but' ;)