Receiving Praise: A Prideful Experience?
Nervous laughter. Avoiding eye-contact. Self-conscious smile. Shaking his head. The young man’s body language was communicating loud and clear his level of discomfort. He obviously didn’t know how to handle this.
“You are wonderful!” With a big smile, Pastor Steve continued to affirm the young man, despite his protests. As an illustration for the Fresh Start Communication Connection workshop in this East Asian city, Pastor Steve was demonstrating giving and receiving praise and affirmation.
“You are a blessing,” Steve looked the young man in the eye, one hand on his shoulder. “I’m so thankful for you. I appreciate the way you serve others. And I love your smile!”
Agreeing with God
More embarrassed laughter rippled around the room. The others seemed to be as uncomfortable watching this exchange as the young man up front was in receiving the praise! In this culture, accepting a compliment is considered prideful. The proper cultural response is always to deflect personal praise.
As we continued to share about giving and receiving affirmation, one bold young woman in the group raised her hand to ask a question. “Isn’t receiving compliments robbing God of His glory?” Murmurs around the room indicated that others had the same thought.
“The Bible says in Psalm 139 that you’re fearfully and wonderfully made,” Steve answered. When I say you’re wonderful, I’m just agreeing with God! It’s giving God glory for the wonderful creation He’s made!”
As this truth began to sink in with the group, I reflected on why it’s so difficult for me to accept praise from others. I think most of the time I don’t really believe that what they’re saying is true. I don’t really believe that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Suddenly a deep conviction came over me. If someone tells me “You’re wonderful,” and I deny it, I’m actually saying that God’s a liar! If He says I’m wonderful, who am I to disagree?
The more I soak in the wonder of who GOD says I am, the more I am free to receive praise from others, if it lines up with what He says. Receiving praise isn’t prideful – I’m just agreeing with God! It’s not about me. It’s all for HIS glory! My spirit can humbly agree,
“Lord, I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful; I know that full well!” ~Psalm 139:14 NIV