Friday, July 9, 2010

The Amazing Power of Praise

I am not the most complimentary person.  I think I should work harder at this, and have begun to practice on random strangers, but it does not come naturally to me.

I did not grow up in a family that praised each other often.  We expressed compliments in a backhanded way sarcastically.  But over the last years, I have grown to see the power of well-spoken praise.  In fact, praise makes such an impact on me that I have a secret file (please don't tell) in my computer where I copy and paste special words of praise people have said to me.  Now there is one person in my life whose comments I do not put in that file since there are simply too many of them.  But I treasure these words.

In the difficult times we went through this spring and in the confusing attacks by our own afterward, there were a few who praised us or me.  I treasured those.  I kept them in my file.  Today, one other came in.... from someone I highly respect who had walked a similar path, only harder, that we walked.  It was a simple praise in a letter to my husband about me.  When I read it, my heart smiled.

A few hours later, I got cornered by a person who had an interest in or could have been affected by the actions this spring, and got sort of scolded for what had happened.  It hurt.  I hadn't expected it, not then, not from her.  But it happened, and I understand her point.  Yet it hurt.

But the word of praise was still there, and it wrapped itself around me like armor to protect from the criticism.  It shielded me.

Hmm....  build each other up... does this include honest, heart-felt praise?  Rather than "spoiling" us, will praise more protect us from hurt, giving us value, confidence, and a sense of being seen and loved.  What would our team, our families look like if I concentrated on giving real praise whenever I had the chance?  Not empty flattery, but praise.

I still keep my file of good things people have said.  Interestingly, I don't feel proud when I read it, but instead a profound sense of awe.  Awe that God is using me (me?! really - the me I know?) to show or do the things He is showing or doing through me.  I stand in awe of God and what He does.  (yeah, ok, at times I tell Him that I think He is slightly crazy - He could have done better in choosing!)

But today, my heart was warmed by the words of one I greatly respect.  Whose heart have you warmed recently?  Who warms your heart?  I wonder if as Christians we are too quick to tear down and too slow to build up.


Carrie said...

I hide those times in my heart as well.

Shan in Japan said...

I have a file of the prayer letters I receive and the letters from kids who write to me from the States. They are such an encouragement to me. Maybe I will make a file on my computer, too. I, too, am in complete awe when I look at such things, amazed that God is using me.
But, like you said, do I encourage and give out words of praise, build up rather than tear down?
Thank you for asking and encouraging and challenging me in this way!