Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Accepting honor where it's due

Someone says something nice abut you. Something true. Something wonderful that you've worked hard on ... or that comes naturally and easily because it's a cultivated talent or gifting.

Should you feel honored or uncomfortable?

Do you feel you have to slough off compliments and achievements? Or can you celebrate what God has allowed you to do?

This past weekend, we noted milestones in lives of our choir peers. 35 years later, some have pastored churches. Others have raised good children. Many have influenced their communities through non-profits and community service. A few attained graduate degrees. I felt like I was in the middle of spiritual giants, listening to the tales of God at work in good times and bad. The gals dressed beautifully. Everyone seemed comfortable and at ease, having learned to speak in public and interact with others. These are not social skills to be taken lightly!

Many of us - including I - continue to struggle against our childhood church culture, which emphasized that pride comes before a fall ... so we had to deny any nice remarks about ourselves.

I listened to the interchanges at our reunion. We were surprised and thrilled to reconnect with each other after 35 years apart, because we have become adults with stories of God's abundance and faithfulness.

"Congratulations on a job well done." Response: "Could have done better."
"You're beautiful!" Response: "Wish it was true."
"You reached your goal!" Response: "Took more time than I thought."
"Wow, that's cool!" Response: "Anyone could do it."

I wondered if God felt disappointed at hearing us fend off others'  kind acknowledgements. He gifted us, gave us unique personalities, and allowed our experiences with the intent of forming and shaping us into useful and amazing persons. Would you be hurt if your kids rejected your parenting, claiming that they were nobodies and refusing to see themselves as worthwhile?

How do we admit who we are and celebrate our accomplishments without becoming self-promoting or prideful?
  1. Did you solicit the compliment? Are you trying to overcome a sense of inadequacy with reverse pride (you are no one unless you're noticed by others)? If so, behave yourself and stop fishing! Your value comes because God likes you, not because of what others say.
  2. Know yourself. How are you unique and special? Every person is needed on the planet or we'd be redundant and God would not have made us. Admit God's creativity: you are fearfully and wonderfully made!
  3. Admit your giftings. What comes naturally and easily that others might struggle with? Celebrate how God has blessed you with talents and personality.
  4. What have you worked hard to achieve? Be happy with how you've developed spiritually and trained a skill-set that is out of the ordinary.
  5. What is the person trying to say? Are they genuinely pleased with you or with what you've done? Or are they buttering you up (flattering you) so you compliment them back or give them what they want? Accept the former with a smile, "Thank you, I appreciate that." Ignore the latter with a polite thanks or "Hmmm" and move on.
  6. Would God agree with the compliment? When God says you are special and finds you extraordinary as his child - especially when he is glorified by your attention to his blessings - receive the compliment with grace and humility. We understand that it's God's work in you that makes you amazing. Your partnership with him is what we find so special about you, whether it's your sense of style, your gracious speech, or your great accomplishments. Agree with us, already :-)
I'm sending a warm "I celebrate you!" and "So glad you're in my life!" to my wonderful friends and family this morning. You know who you are! (All of you!)

Read more:
*In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

*For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:36

*Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.1 Corinthians 8:6

*But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christthe righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11 NIV

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