Graciously Accepting Compliments {India Werner}

Have you ever struggled with how to respond when someone gives you a compliment? Perhaps you have not, but I most certainly have! Accepting a compliment and leaving it at that can be, well, awkward, depending on your personality.

In an attempt to be humble and neutralize the attention that is suddenly on me, I have responded to people’s compliments with words such as the following: “Oh my, are you serious? That was actually terrible!”…and then I explain why I don’t think whatever I did, wore, or sang was worthy of their kind words.

Do you see what happens here? I feel flustered, sometimes unworthy, that someone has said something nice to me, and then I proceed to talk about…me.

Ironically, deflecting compliments draws more attention to us, rather than less.

Ecclesiastes 10:12 says

“The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious;

but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.”

I can almost feel this verse! There have been (too many) times that I chattered on nervously and ended up with a “dot, dot, dot” moment. Cringe.

What should I say then when someone gives me a sincere compliment?

“Thank you.”

That’s it.

Of course, there more creative words that you could add, but in most cases, saying a pleasant “thank you” in return is all that is necessary or expected.

Several years ago, our family was visiting a church. They had a nursery and a children’s class for each of my kids. When I went to pick one of my daughters up from her class, the teacher stopped me. I naturally held my breath, wondering if there was a behavior issue needing addressed.

Instead, she told me, “I was so surprised that your daughter knew the answer to a question that I asked in class, and I said, ‘Wow! You are so smart!’, to which your daughter answered, ‘Thank you’. I just wanted to tell you that ‘thank you’ is the most gracious response that you could give.”

Up until that point, I hadn’t given this much thought, but what better way to respond than with a simple word of thanks? This doesn’t make you proud or high on yourself. It simply acknowledges what the other person kindly made a point to tell you, rather than negating their words.

What about when you sing or play an instrument in church for the glory of God? People often tell you afterward, “Wonderful song! That was such a blessing!”  I learned many years ago that I feel more comfortable saying “Praise the Lord!” instead of “thank you” in those instances. There are times when I don’t think the song I sang in church sounded good, but going on and on about how my voice cracked does not magnify the Lord. If my song blessed someone’s heart, then who am I to question the work that God used me to do?

Then there are the times when I cook something. Someone says how great it tasted, and I mumble a “Oh, good”. What’s even worse is when I say “Oh dear, I’m glad you like it, but it did NOT turn out the way it was supposed to!” This usually leads to a conversation that ends in the person repeatedly telling me, “No, you did a great job with it!” Ugh, do you see what happens? We end up talking about me again, when I could have graciously accepted their compliment and moved on to the next topic.

Think about it. When you compliment someone else, are you expecting to hear them go on and on about how they’re not good at whatever you said, and then try to convince them that they are worthy of your pleasant words?

Proverbs 16:24 says

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb,

sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”

Pleasant words are sweet to the soul and health to the bones. Genuine compliments are not flattery, and should not be treated as such. Compliments are almost always intended to be words of encouragement. When someone tells you something nice about yourself, believe them. Thank them. Be grateful that people care enough to tell you. This is not pride. This is grace.

“A gracious woman retaineth honour.” (Proverbs 11:16)

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