It happened again this past week. Not at all unpleasant, quite enjoyable, in fact, but still somewhat disconcerting since there was quite a bit of it.
To explain, I need to back up a bit. Right back to the first chapter of Genesis.
We all want to do a good job. When any of us look back on something we accomplished we want to be able to say, “That’s a good job.” There’s something godly about doing that. Our Creator did the same thing. After six days of creating He looked back on all His work and “saw that it was good.” God did it and He wants us to. That’s why He gave us one day a week to stop working, rest, and look back to evaluate the work we did.
Now, for many of us the work we do impacts other people. People in my family serve others in a huge variety of ways; everything from cooking and cleaning to carpentry and construction, and from preaching and printing to painting and performing. And I work with words.
All of these services impact people and sometimes, quite often, actually, people are moved to say, “Thank you. That was really good. You did a great job.” There’s nothing wrong with that. When it comes to praise, the Bible teaching is clear, “Never praise yourself. Let others do it” Proverbs 27:2 (ERV). So it is perfectly okay for us to praise others or to receive praise from them. But still . . . .
A Probing Question
Last week, after publishing my InSight and OutBurst testimonial article on couples needing to read the Bible and pray together, I received a far greater than normal number of responses expressing agreement and appreciation. It made me stop and ask, “Why am I doing this? To get praise?”
No, even though it is satisfying to get praise, that is not my motivation. Yet, when I receive praise, I know that it is somewhat misplaced.
The ideas for these blog posts and their development into a well-rounded article do not come from my mind but through it. Each part comes from another Mind. It is the Creator Himself who puts the ideas into my head and leads me to expand and develop the piece. So really, it is He who should be praised.
But I can hardly reject the words of appreciation and tell people, “Don’t thank me, thank God.” We all know that God is the Originator of all good things. But we also know that it takes work, effort, skill, and discipline to turn an idea into a useful article, a bag of groceries into a delicious meal, or a pile of lumber into a cozy home.
What Works for Me
So lately I’ve been doing something quite deliberate and intentional that I picked up from fellow Dutchman Corrie ten Boom. Whenever someone writes me a thank you email, or tells me they appreciated a speech, or enjoyed reading an article, here’s what I do:
I accept the praise and appreciation, and simply say, “Thank you”, while imagining I am receiving a single stalk of a cut flower. Being Dutch, I usually visualize a red or yellow tulip.
Then, at the end of the day, I arrange these tulips in a vase, and present them to my Mentor saying, “These are for You. Thank you for working through me to bless all these people. Could we do it again sometime?”
This system keeps my pride under control. It seems to work for me.
How do you deal with praise when it comes to you?