"Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
an outsider, and not your own lips."
Twice in the last two days I received some praise that was both sincere and unexpected. Both were about areas that I have consciously worked on in the last several years of my life, and both were deeply gratifying. There is a difference between sincere praise and flattery, and I think both of these compliments were given with a genuine heart.
Do you know what happened as a result of those? It strengthened my resolve to keep making progress in those areas. One related to the work I'm doing to try to take care of my body better, and one was related to some leadership lessons I've been learning over the years. And in both cases I walked away from those very brief statements thinking that I should keep up the good work because it's really making a difference.
And then I thought how often I might withold praise from someone else, either out of pure neglect, or out of some deeper fear that praise will "go to their head" when it's offered. I thought about how stingy I can be with words of encouragement at times, and how effective a well-timed word of praise can be in encouraging another person to move in the right direction.
When it comes to changes in my own life, I'm very willing to see the sacrifices I've made and the commitments I've made as these incredibly difficult, challenging things. But when I look at someone else working to change in their lives, I tend to minimize it, to see it as a minor improvement at best, or to ignore it completely.
So today I felt like asking myself, and you, what if we just took an extra moment today to pay a sincere, well-deserved compliment to someone else? What good might come from that praise? What might your wife think when she heard your words? What might your kids think when they hear your encouragement instead of your correction? What might your friend, your boss, or your coworker think when you offer a genuine acknowledgement of something they've done well?
We might find that those struggling through a challenging moment find fresh strength to face the day. Those wondering about the value of the changes that they're making as they follow Jesus might keep at it for another season because someone else noticed the difference. Those in places of leadership above you might lead with more diligence and more attention as a result.
The Scriptures (in Galatians 6:9) remind us that we should not grow weary in doing good for God's Kingdom, because in time we will reap the results of that work. Let's face it, sometimes we need to hear that word of encouragement from someone else, because the road can feel lonely. Don't hold back from someone else what you would want offered to you.