Receiving compliments gracefully

Can I ask you all something? How does one receive a compliment well? gracefully and yet not puffed up, accepting but not proud? I think this is almost harder for Christians to do, when we do something well, we want (or maybe think we ought) to give the glory to God, but then how to do that without being pious?
Last Sunday I led the service for the first time. It went well, I think ,and we had a debrief this morning that seemed to echo that (with a few minor details for next time, if there is one…). Lots of people came up and said ‘well done’ to me, people I didn’t even know. Which was lovely and affirming too, especially when I had been very nervous beforehand. But I just didn’t know what to say to people! Just a quiet ‘thank you’ was all I managed or possibly a ‘well you know it was God working through me, not me’ to which 2 people replied, ‘well I think it was a bit of you…’ to which there is no answer! To be honest I wanted them to just go away (which sounds incredibly ungrateful I know, sorry…) it made me feel uncomfortable. Gosh, I’m not in denial I think it went well, but it was just a few words on a stage, it wasn’t anything really meaningful or dramatic. And ultimately the point of the leader is to guide people into worship, into meeting with God, not standing up to be ‘seen’, so I just did what I was up there to do.

I’ve never been good at receiving compliments though. Maybe its a girl thing. If someone says I have cooked a nice meal, I seem to have to make a joke about it or make some trivial comment, if someone compliments me on how I look, I make fun of myself. What is that about? I mean I am a confident person, its not that I don’t necessarly agree with what the compliment is, but I can’t help myself… Is it what is expected of us? because if we accept it too easily then we seem arrogant or proud?

So how does one accept a compliment gracefully? I wish I knew….!

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  • Reply
    Lucy Mills
    March 29, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    In that sort of situation I would probably say 'thank you for your encouragement, I appreciate it' or something similar. It is a funny one though. You feel a mixture of pleasure, embarrassment, and awkwardness.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Red, this is something you will have to learn to deal with if you go into any kind of public ministry. Most people like to be encouraging and affirmative, especially to a beginner, so just accept it gracefully, in the spirit with which it was given, with a few words such as Lucy suggests.

    Incidentally, I think the people who said that there was a bit of you in it are quite right. Yes, God works through us, but he uses who we are and the gifts and abilities we have. We shouldn't discount our own contribution in a burst of false modesty.

  • Reply
    Nancy Wallace
    March 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I agree with Perpetua – accept gracefully with warmth and minimum words – 'thank you' plus you might add 'and thank God'. Otherwise it's like refusing someone's gift. Immediately after leading a service can be a hard time to receive immediate feedback – positive or negative. It's a skill to learn like any other.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Why not just say "thank you"? I think that's the most polite response.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Thank you all, good advice! And welcome Peter and Lucy, don't think I've seen you here before 🙂 Peter, some interesting points there, and love the word verification!, its spooky how often it seems humourously relevant. I'm sure someone clever will tell me its done deliberately somehow…! and well done with the PhD. do you have a blog?

  • Reply
    April 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I find that a simple "thank you" does the job. It acknowledges the intention of the other person, without getting too pious and theological about it on the one hand or getting into false humility (which is really self-absorption) on the other.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    You're not alone! I wrote on this a while back (http://emmascrivener.net/2010/12/step-away-from-the-dog-collar/), but while I can point out the problem, I'm not so hot on the solution.

    I don't know how we deal with praise – except say thank-you and then maybe, 'that's very kind'. If you were feeling really brave, you could ask what it was that was most helpful. I don't think this is fishing for compliments, but it does help in terms of feedback (and you can ask what you could do better too).

    Why do you think it's so hard to accept praise?

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