What do you sound like?
I’ve been thinking about humility. We have all heard that it is good to be humble. What does humble sound like?
When someone compliments a talent… a character trait… what is the humble response?
Have you ever complimented someone, only to follow it up with convincing?
No, really, I mean it…
Yes, you are…
Yes, you do…
Suddenly the compliment has become something you have to ram down a resistant throat.
After a while, it makes you wish you had never said anything at all.
Take the compliment. Just say thanks.
When I receive a compliment, what do I say?
There is a sort of twisted pride in this denying of compliments ~ true, valid compliments. This strange habit of adamantly denying something that faintly rings with truth. A sort of self-focus that longs to highlight a negative… shunning the positive at every turn. I wonder if we spend more energy on ourselves in false self-defeat, than we do in acknowledging a good thing… a good thing we know to be true?
The truth is, we are usually aware of our strengths. We are most certainly aware of our short-comings… whether we admit them or not. Yes, there are the few among us who don’t require much complimenting ~ they do just fine on their own.
So, when we have these strengths, what do we do with them? How do we acknowledge them? How do we acknowledge our strengths without sounding arrogant… or worse yet, self-effacing.
A few days ago, a talented pro athlete gave an interview. What impressed me the most in the interview was his humility. His humility in knowing that he is good. Even great… at what he does. He knows it. He admits it. He does not take credit for it.
There was my answer.
Own the gift. Credit the Giver.
There is nothing wrong with knowing you are good, even great at something. There is nothing wrong with knowing you have a wonderful character trait. There is nothing wrong with admitting it. There is everything right about accepting the gift… and giving thanks to the One who gave it.
Graciously acknowledging the truth ~ deflecting the credit to the One who gave you the gift… this is beautiful humility at its finest.
I had an assignment a few days ago. My assignment was to ask a few friends, you know ~ the truthful ones, what my voice sounds like. (Not my singing voice – thankfully). My friends, loving and kind, replied.
It was an awkward thing for me to ask… the ultimate in compliment-fishing. I cringed at the thought of it. But, I did it. I asked.
In person, the responses would have made me drop my eyes and shake my head. Over email, I read them, re-read them… absorbed them. I let them sink in and settle. I took these words from my friends… and owned them.
The reply from one of my friends surprised me. Made me smile.
bold with grace.
In all my self-doubting, all the times I have thought
why did I say that?
why did I write that?
what was I thinking?
I missed the gift. I replaced it with some kind of upside down attempt at humility.
Humility is not denying all that is good about ourselves.
Humility is not stiff-arming a heartfelt compliment.
Humility is not time spent self deprecating.
Humility is ownership of the truth. Ownership of the talent. Ownership of the quality. The good God gift specifically given… to me… to you.
Humility is owning the gift, and giving credit to the Giver. Humility is using the gift to show how awesome God is.
So, what does my “bold with grace” voice resonate today?
Own your gifts. Credit our Giver.
He makes no mistakes.
Happy New Year.
2 Corinthians 10:13, 17-18
We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even you… But, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.