The gift of a compliment. Aaaaah. How do you receive it?
Years ago, I was part of a team that led a weekly session with fourth graders as a means to hopefully prevent bullying among that age group.
As it happens, the teacher is also a student. You see, one Friday, we gathered the 19 students to share how to give and receive compliments. To give sincere compliments to people brings the giver joy in doing so as she blesses another with a gift from the heart. We stressed to the children that to receive the gift with a turned up nose or a comment that negates the compliment’s value was like taking a birthday present, not opening it, slamming it to the ground, and ignoring the recipient’s presence at your own birthday party.
Well, that lesson spoke to me then and continues to speak to me now.
When I receive compliments about how I write or speak or lead a lesson in Bible study, it can be a challenge to know what to say. I hesitate often in a response because sometimes it seems that my “thank you” will appear egotistical. The same goes for entertaining in our home and guests leave with full tummies and a warm feeling in their hearts from the hospitality extended to them.
For some time, I was bad about slamming myself after receiving a compliment. That lesson to fourth graders has stuck with me for 16 years.
I had an opportunity to share this lesson once more with a young lady of ten years. As she patiently waited for her grandmother at a doctor’s appointment, I had the pleasure of talking with her. She was a beautiful child with fluffy hair and a cute white bow perched off to the side. Cute, cute, cute! She was mature beyond her years as she sat there.
I told her, “You are such a beautiful child not only because of your hair, bow, and outfit, but also because of how you are so patiently waiting for your grandmother. It’s sweet to see you today.”
Her response was, “Most of the time when people tell my I’m beautiful I say, ‘No, I’m not.'”
And so, with that, I reminded her (and I remind you and me today), “You are made in the image of a magnificent Creator and He delights in how He fearfully and wonderfully made you. The best thing to say is, ‘Thank you,’ when others compliment you. It may be a bit difficult to say at first, but soon it will be your pattern to respond to the gift of kind words in that way. It is true that you are beautiful.”
You know what she said?