What is it with people giving compliments these days?

I have two big questions about them.

One, why are they so hard to give?
And two, why are they so hard to receive?

I’m not sure if it is an epidemic or something, but no one seems to be capable of a real compliment any more. At one point in history, people could, but not anymore.You might know what I’m talking about, but I should probably clarify some things first.What do I mean by real compliment? How do you distinguish one that is good from the thousands that are terrible?How about I start with an example of a bad compliment and we go from there.

A woman came up to me today after church and wanted to say good bye. She wouldn’t be at church the following week to say farewell as I was leaving the church and moving back to school.She looks at me and says, “You have really blossomed in the last while…Ever since the new senior pastor moved here. He does such a good job; he lifts people up and helps them out. It’s just great having him around.”That was a bad compliment.First, what she said had absolutely nothing to do with me.
She was talking about the new senior pastor and how great he was.
I don’t know why she didn’t just go tell him how awesome he was to his face.

Second, it was a slap in the face to me.

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Apparently, I was not experiencing any kind of spiritual growth before. Not on my own or because of anyone else in the church. It was only because of the new pastor had come along that anything in me was growing or changing for the better.

After I heard that, I bottled up all my irritation and annoyance with this woman, and smiled politely and said thank you.

All the while, I wanted to scream and claw her eyes out.
Why couldn’t she have actually complimented me? Especially when that seemed to be what she meant to do.
Why couldn’t she say something more along these lines?“I have seen a real growth in you. It’s a shame we won’t get to see more of that growth in this church. You have been a real blessing to the congregation here. Thank you.”
That would be a real compliment.See, a compliment is when you state how something or someone has performed, executed or done something in a satisfactory or exemplary way.People compliment and talk proudly when their dog rolls over and plays dead.
They say things like, “Good job,” and “Good boy,” or “Who’s a good puppy?”A compliment is a celebration of someone or something in a very simple but honest way.

People celebrate food that other prepare.
They usually sound like this.
“Martha, these potatoes are amazing! What did you put in them?” or “Gerald, I can’t believe that you build this gazebo all by yourself. It looks fantastic.”

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These, while completely fictitious, are examples of what real compliments sound like.

A real compliment is said with honesty.
A real compliment comes from the heart.
It comes without obligation.
It comes from a desire to share how awesome or amazing a person is or how fantastic something they have done is.

That is not what this woman did when she came to compliment me.
What she said to me that day was not a good compliment.

And I should hope that it is not something that you are guilty of either.
But that brings me to the second question.
The second question is the harder of the two to answer.
Why is it so hard to accept compliments?For a long time, and still one the occasional bad day, I can’t accept a compliment.
And it doesn’t matter who it is from.It could be from my boss. It could be my wife saying I did something well. Maybe a best friend or even a perfect stranger.Sometimes, I simply cannot believe that. I can’t accept it.
I’ll say things in response that will complete bash their compliment, or state something that will degrade myself in some kind of humorous way.

In the case of the woman complimenting me, I didn’t believe that I had blossomed at all.
I didn’t see any growth or maturity in me.
I looked the same way that I did the day that I walked in.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually realized that I had grown and blossomed in that time. But that only came around because I figured out why I wasn’t accepting compliments.

I wasn’t accepting the truth that I could be good at something.
I wasn’t accepting the reality that I could improve, that I wasn’t destine to be a screwup forever.

Now these may seem like small revelations, but for an individual that hasn’t accepted compliments, it was and still is huge.

Because not accepting compliments reflects on how I see myself as a human being.
Because not accepting the kind and encouraging words of the people around me showed that I didn’t care about myself.

As much as we need to be sure we aren’t giving out bad compliments, we need to be sure we aren’t guilty of this.

We need to step back and realize some things about ourselves.

We are capable of doing a good job.
We are capable of doing something well.
We are not destine to screwup all the time.
We are do not have to degrade ourselves, because the truth is this.

You do things well. You do a good job.
Even when you don’t think so sometimes.
Even when no one else may be watching.
You are still capable of doing great things.

When you understand that, when that truth gets its hooks on your heart, it is going to change your life.

You are going to see that you get a lot more compliments about who you are and what you do.
You will see through the bad compliments to see the gem of truth in all of them.
You are able to do great things.

May you go and give good compliments where ever you go.
And may you know the truth about yourself so you can enjoy the compliments you receive.

Shalom

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