Compliments. When received they can encourage. They can usher in a feeling of appreciation. They can inflate the ego. They can also humble.
I have heard some say that we shouldn’t give out compliments too freely because we wouldn’t want to feed another person’s ego and soul-life. So rather than compliments, we should dish out ample amounts of critique and maybe add a dash of compliments if we feel that we might crush the other person. Yes, the Bible does speak of admonishing and correcting, but despite the “danger” of inflating someone’s ego, it is a biblical command to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Can we not trust that the Lord will work on a person’s heart to deflate any ego inflation that may occur do to our encouragement?
There are two sets of compliments that I received and appreciated upon the end of a recent sermon. “You spoke exactly what I needed to hear.” “You must have spent a lot of time in preparation for this message.” My response to those compliments was along the lines of “Thank you. This has been on my heart for a while and I am glad that the message had impact.” I hope I came across as humble and appreciative.
Sometimes Christians respond with a religious (in a bad way) response of “glory to God” or some similar statement. It may appear humble but inwardly I have my doubts to the authenticity of this reply. It also leaves the person who gave the encouragement feeling awkward and wondering if they should say “well done” to you in the future. When I respond with appreciation to a person’s compliment I believe it acknowledges the person’s thoughts and feelings with real thankfulness that can also encourage the person. Inwardly I truly am thankful to Jesus praise Him for having impact in a person’s life through my speaking. I fully realize that without the Spirit’s move my words are simply words that have no real ability to spiritually affect another person. Seeing myself as a team member with God in ministering has helped with this realization. I need to do my part by studying the Word, praying, having fellowship with others, and spending time filled with prayer in preparing the sermon. But my partner is the One who gives the power and reaches the hearts of men. He is the Person that I am dependent upon in all the preparation work, the delivery, and the lasting impact.
Let us seek to encourage one another. Let us genuinely respond with thankfulness to any compliments. Let us recognize and praise Jesus, who is the real source of any real spiritual impact in our lives and through our ministry.