No matter our line of work or ministry, we’ve all been criticized and received feedback. Sometimes it’s an annual employment evaluation. Sometimes, we’re criticized for something we did or didn’t do, either on the job or in our church or around the house. We’re human and we’re going to mess up. Somebody is not going to be happy with our performance.
At times we can be our own worst critic.
As writers, we’re encouraged to develop a thick skin, a metaphor for becoming tough enough to receive criticism and feedback and not take it personally. It’s a phrase to encourage us to listen to what others say about our work and incorporate what is genuinely helpful into our writing. Learn it and apply it.
But there’s a flip side to this. I found it during my prayer time recently. Proverbs 27:21 (NLT) reads, Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.
A person is tested by being praised? How is that possible?
As I pondered the scripture, some thoughts percolated to the top of my mind.
Praise can be good. It encourages us to keep at what we’re doing. Who doesn’t like having their ego stroked?
But praise can also have a downside.
It can block us from improving even more. Praise can lead us to settling for where we are and who we are rather than striving to be better, to be the best at what we’re called to do.
Another trap praise can lead us into is to think we can do it all on our own. We forget the work we’re being praised for is work the Father called us to do and equipped us to perform.
We forget those He brought across our paths to encourage, to mentor, and to teach. Those who spoke just the right word at just the right time to give us the boost we needed to overcome whatever challenge faced us. Those who prayed for us and challenged us when discouragement had us on the edge of giving up.
So praise does test us. I remember how Pastor Keith Moore responds to praise. His words were, after someone praised him, “If it was good, it was God. If it was bad, it was me.”
How do you handle praise?
Awesome post, Henry! You’re right there’s such a fine line regarding praise. It was be an encouragement to us or a stumbling block.
Thanks for this reminder!
Thank you, Darlene.