Last night, at a neighborhood study group, a woman offered up a really nice compliment. After I closed the study in prayer, she suggested that I open a prayer line for people to call in so I can pray for them.
In my typical false modesty fashion I responded with a deflecting joke about my Midwestern nasal sound that is not really made for amplification or recording. I then make another not so funny joke about being Lucy from Peanuts cartoon, chagrining while charging people 5 cents at a prayer help booth, after I bully Charlie Brown.
This is actually an improvement. I used to argue with people when they complimented me.
Once a gentleman praised a class I led, and I just about took him to the woodshed. Really, we ended up laughing as I protested his kindness directed at me by telling him directly he was wrong.
Why am I uncomfortable with another's kind appreciation?
When someone says they like my flip flops, I smile and say thank you. When I get a kudos for my cookie bars, I offer up the recipe. Yet, when someone dares to say something nice about my study, leadership or writing I want to forcefully reject such talk as outrageous.
On the surface it seems like a form of humility, but it's actually false modesty and sometimes just rude.
Humility is putting the interests of others behind my own interests but false modesty is refusing to accept a gift of affirmation from other in a form of pretense.
When I cooperate with God and serve faithfully I should not be taken back when others are blessed--not so much for my fabulousness, but that how God works--through others.
When the response is positive, that is evidence of sound ministry-in the Bible it's called fruit. As long as I realize that from the perspective of a servant, giving people room to express appreciation is not arrogant.
It's sometimes hard to point to God as the one who really deserves credit-that can be a odd way of putting people off too. It's like I would be saying...you shouldn't have complimented me that way, you should have given credit to Christ. Yes, to God be the glory, but I don't need to scold or edit someone's kind words.
It is not interpersonal relational calculus to accept another's appreciation in a humble way--it's not hard, so why do I make it hard?
I need to take the kindness when it's offered as a gift. Open it, enjoy it, enjoy it and remember really it is a response to my faithful service to God and equipping from God.