Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16, ESV)
I hate receiving compliments said no one ever. We all appreciate words of affirmation. There is not one person without doubts and insecurities. If you peel enough layers of the onion back, you will discover that the most confident people are not as confident as they appear.
We live in a critical world. There is more than enough criticism to go around. It is a way of life to criticize politicians in the capital, supervisors at work, pastors in the church, and spouses at home. Ask yourself if you have a complimentary or critical spirit? Are you more likely to compliment or complain?
There are enough people tearing down. We need more people to build up. This is especially true in the church. Colossians 3:16 tells us to let the Word of Christ dwell in us to teach and admonish one another. If it is the Word of God that is dwelling in us, it is with grace that we will lead.
Certainly, there is a time to confront. But the opportunity to confront is born out of a building a healthy and positive relationship. You earn the right to confront and criticize.
To Compliment is Not to Flatter
There is a difference between being complimentary towards someone and practicing flattery. The biggest difference is to ask what is in it for you. To compliment another is to build them up for the sake of building them up. Flattery is about manipulating another person to get what you want. There is a fine line. Make sure your words of affirmation are from the heart.
We use sarcasm in fun and playful ways. But sarcasm is more dangerous than most of us realize. It is like playing with fire. We may say something in good humor, but the sarcasm can easily be missed. That message sent in a playful way is easily received with all seriousness. The humor is missed, and the person on the other end is wounded.
How do you speak about your spouse in public? Are you complimentary towards them? It is one thing to affirm others in private, but it can be especially rewarding when you publicly affirm others. And this is not just for your spouse. It is with other people as well.
Gossip runs rapid. The best way to end a negative conversation about another person is to be complimentary towards that person. Nothing shuts down gossip quicker. A good rule is never say something in a person’s absence that you would not say in their presence.
Sometimes It is Better to Say Nothing
There are times when it may be difficult to find anything positive to say. You may feel disappointed by another person. You may feel like lashing out at them. But sometimes it is better to say nothing at all and bite your lip. Instead of being critical – wait, listen, and seek to understand. There may be more to the story than you realize. When we disagree with the choices people make, we may not fully realize the difficulty they had in making the decision. Be careful to criticize people when you don’t know the options they had to choose.
- How does it make you feel to be affirmed? How does it make you feel to affirm others?
- Who do you need to affirm today?
- How has criticism wounded you? Where do you seek affirmation when you are criticized?