As a newspaper columnist, author, and speaker, I sometimes receive praise in person for something I’ve written or presented to an audience. Receiving thanks has sometimes been awkward for me or embarrassing.
Do you have genuine or practiced responses that work well for you? I’m doing much better at accepting a person’s appreciation, but in the past I’ve sometimes looked down, hummed and hawed, or played down my effectiveness. However, I feel that behavior belittles the person who took the time to say, “Thank you.” Any suggestions?
Still Learning People Skills
I feel your “pain”! It can feel quite awkward to receive accolades for what you see as something simple—communicating the message God placed on your heart. But I’ve seen many people handle this with humility and grace. Consider Tim Tebow who constantly deflects the attention. He’s quick to point out what his offensive line did to protect him allowing him time to throw a solid pass. He highlights the effectiveness of the defense and the great job they did keeping the other team from scoring. We can do something similar, especially when we contribute to something larger (e.g., speak as part of a larger conference or craft a story for an anthology).
If the praise is intended for you and you alone (you keynoted an event or wrote the book yourself), you can still point out how grateful you are that God endowed you with specific gifts and allows you to use them for his glory. We don’t further the cause of Christ when we can’t even graciously accept praise.
Try this: “Thank you for saying that. I’m grateful to God that my words encouraged you. My greatest blessing in life is being able to use the gifts God has given me.”
Then, you could even take it a step further to remind them of their value and worth in God’s eyes: “Would you mind if I prayed for you today?” And then do it.
We serve our gracious, powerful God even better when we work at our craft. And sometimes that means we will receive praise and accolades—as if our presentation (words, style, etc.) came only from human effort. By pointing our readers and listeners to the Lord, we can do much to further his kingdom.