For years, I have had positions that put me up in front of people. For some reason, I am comfortable there. I like the interaction with people and the impact that some of the things I say and do have on people. I have been a Worship leader, a teacher, a public speaker, and on the Prophetic Team at our church. I have managed events and run meetings. And I’m going to be honest – there are a lot of times that people have come up to me after I have ministered or spoken or even written a blog and said something like, “That was amazing. What you shared changed my perspective. I’m never going to be the same…” and that type of thing. It’s very flattering. It feels like a warm hug when people are saying those wonderful things to me because even though I am comfortable speaking and teaching and prophesying, it’s not EASY to get to that place. It takes a lot of preparation and separation and sacrifice. So to hear that all of my effort has made a difference in someone’s life is so incredibly rewarding.
But with that said, I have always felt uncomfortable receiving people’s praise and gratitude. I didn’t know what to do with those words. Instinctively, I have known that taking those words into myself would be my demise. But to reject those words would diminish what God had done in me and through me. So where is the balance that keeps me humble and in proper relationship with my Father and also lets me live in a place of thanksgiving for what the Lord is doing through my life?
Well, here’s what the Lord showed me one Sunday after I had preached. I was sitting alone in the sanctuary in between services trying to avoid the crowd of people in the hallway. I wasn’t being anti-social, but I didn’t want to have to deal with the “praise of man” that I knew would be coming. As I sat there with the Lord, He showed me what to do with the praise that I receive as a result of the blessing that God works through my life. I saw a bandage on my arm. And I saw that if I left that bandage on my arm for years, eventually the flesh would eat away because it wasn’t meant to be covered up that way. The praise of man is like a sticker or a Band-Aid. If I allow it to stick to me it will destroy me because I am made of flesh. Praise sticks to flesh and adheres. If I don’t peel it off and offer it back to God, it will eat away at my flesh under the surface. The Lord showed me that I could peel compliments and praise off of me like stickers and offer them back to the Lord in thanksgiving and praise. Only God Who is not flesh can handle the praise of man because He is worthy and holy. We weren’t designed for that.
Denying what God has done through the gifts and talents that HE put in me is not the answer. That denies the power of God that is bringing Him glory. And it also denies the fact that a person who is submitted to God can be used by Him. It also denies the fact that we have choices to act in agreement with God’s plan and we do have a part to play in being used. So when I say, “That wasn’t me, that was God,” as a way to deflect a compliment, that’s not the truth. Jesus needs my mind, my talents, my abilities and my surrendered will in order to accomplish His will through my life. So I do have something to do with how people are blessed.
But now every time people thank me or praise me for something I have done, I can receive it lovingly and completely knowing that when I am alone, I will be offering all of that back to Him. I will peel every piece of man’s praise off of me and lift up as an offering to the One Who can take it.
Now the cool thing is that this technique of peeling people’s words off also works in the reverse! So when I receive criticism and judgment, I find myself picturing those hurtful words as black stickers that are trying to adhere to me. I see myself pulling them off and lifting them up to the Father Who made me and loves me and thinks I’m awesome! And he thinks you’re awesome, too!
I have to admit, that I am persuaded that God used a children’s book to show this technique to me – but I don’t care. If it takes the simplicity of a child’s story to help me learn how to deal with praise and criticism, so be it! The book is called, You Are Special, by Max Lucado. It was one of my favorite books to read to my children when they were young. I think you will enjoy the story, too!
- Do you struggle with knowing how to take a compliment?
- Do you feel guilty if someone praises something you do or say?
- Do you think that the great feeling that accompanies the praise of man is wrong?
- Who gave you the gifts and talents and even the appearance that you have?
- How would you describe humility: Putting yourself down or lifting God up?
- Do you struggle with the words of others when they criticize you or judge you?
- Does it help to imagine yourself sitting on God’s lap while you peel those ugly black stickers off and let Him tell you how wonderfully he created you. Since he made you, He thinks you are perfect!
Give Your Lives to God
Romans 12:1-9 (ESV)
1 So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. 2 Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. 3 Because God has given me a special gift, I have something to say to everyone among you. Do not think you are better than you are. You must decide what you really are by the amount of faith God has given you. 4 Each one of us has a body with many parts, and these parts all have different uses. 5 In the same way, we are many, but in Christ we are all one body. Each one is a part of that body, and each part belongs to all the other parts. 6 We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us. The person who has the gift of prophecy should use that gift in agreement with the faith. 7 Anyone who has the gift of serving should serve. Anyone who has the gift of teaching should teach. 8 Whoever has the gift of encouraging others should encourage. Whoever has the gift of giving to others should give freely. Anyone who has the gift of being a leader should try hard when he leads. Whoever has the gift of showing mercy to others should do so with joy.