Last night at our Toastmasters meeting, a kind member presented a speech in honour of my contributions as a friend, member and president of our club. I am blogging about this today, not to brag but to bring to the forefront an issue that I have often thought about — how does one respond when given accolades? Have you ever noticed how poorly people accept praise? All humans need and desire praise, recognition and acceptance. You can give simple praise to a child and watch him/her soar. We know how a simple thank-you can make our day. We all like and need to feel valued and appreciated, so why is it so difficult to simply smile, enjoy the moment and say, “Thank-you?”
Seneca once said, “You can tell the character of every man when you see how he receives praise.” I believe this is true. It’s so important that we, as Christians, learn to receive praise sincerely, thankfully and humbly, knowing that ultimately, our gifts and abilities come from God. He is the One whom we can praise as others praise our character and/or our performance.
How receptive we are to compliments is a reflection of our self-esteem. Compliments can trigger people with low self-esteem to feel uncomfortable because acclamations contradict their own self-views. In other words, receiving praise from others when we feel negatively about ourselves elicits discomfort because it conflicts with our existing and faulty belief system. When our self-esteem is intact – when we understand why we are who we are in Christ – we can humbly accept praise and give the glory to God. We value ourselves because God values each individual as a person created in His image. We were “bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6.20) and that price is our value to God. When we understand, internalise and act on this truth, there’s no puffed up pride – there is only a sober estimate of ourselves; in other words, a healthy self-esteem.
Years ago, in his book, Principle-Centered Leadership, Stephen R. Covey made an important distinction between pride and self- esteem.
External security Internal security
Scarcity mentality Abundance mentality
Comparison to others No need to compare
Value in possessions or positions Value in self
Tears others down Lifts others up
Concerned with who is right Concerned with what is right
Self-esteem comes from an ongoing, authentic, life-giving relationship with God. Look at the chart — all the “good stuff” comes from humbly acknowledging God’s power in us, not our ability to shine on our own. The result of it all is that we can be praised and not squiggle in our chairs, counting seconds until it’s over. When we reject positive feedback and encouragement, we rob ourselves the opportunity to feel valued and appreciated, and deny the other person the joy of honoring us.
So, last night, I chose to bask in the moment and quietly thank God for all He has done in my life.