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Compliments: Stumbling Blocks or Treasures of the Heart?
Rick Kamrath

Here’s a quiz:

The service is ended. People are milling around and you are putting your equipment away. Suddenly a face appears in front of you with a look of total elation.

Worship was a-a-a-w-e-s-o-m-e !" they exclaim

Your answer?

    (a).    "Yes, I knew that the worship was awesome. But did you know that I wrote half of the songs in the set.
    (b).    "Praise the Lord!" ‘Cause it wasn’t me. I can’t do a thing without the Lord."
    (c).    "Thank you."

Most of us with any training whatsoever in "worship Leading 101" would immediately dismiss answer (a). The Bible makes it very clear that proud spirit can lead to disaster (Proverbs 16:18). Any person in a place of ministry, especially a visible one, needs to be constantly vigilant against the temptation to be proud and steal God’s glory for them.

For much of my Christian walk, the answer has always been (b). Knowing better than to answer (a), I would feel very secure n my habit of directing people to the glory of the Lord, and that was good. What wasn’t so good was how some people felt when I ignored their encouragement at best, or dismissed them as one more threat to my humility at worst.

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up" (James 4:10) is both a command and a promise. Notice that the scripture says "humble yourselves." We do have something to do about our own humility, just as we are responsible for purifying our hearts (v.8). But our part is to see our condition choose righteousness. But our part is to see our condition, choose righteousness, and allow the Lord to mold us as "His workmanship." Humble answers don’t produce humble hearts&ldots;.humble hearts product the answers (Matt. 12:34).

Years ago I was involved with a Christian band that performed "special" music in weekly concerts at our church. From time to time people would offer appreciation and encouragement, and I would, basically, ignore the words, which were offered to me.

Two things eventually happened that would teach me how my reactions could have been better. After many years in this ministry, my heart started wandering through dry places. I began to wonder whether all the work we had put in did much good or ever really mattered. It was at that time that I believe the Lord spoke to me. He said that there was a "treasure box" of sorts inside of my heart, and that those jewels that people tried to give me to keep in that treasure box had been continually rejected and now it remained empty. Those were treasures that were meant to encourage me so that I wouldn’t have to wonder if my work was in vain.

The other event that happened that I was touched by someone else’s music ministry. I thought that they needed to know how much others were affected, so I approached them, with "gift in hand." After offering them my words, I saw that same zombie-like daze come over them that I used to slip into. With a swift backhand, they knocked my "gift" to the floor, just like I used to do.

How do we know that the Lord Himself doesn’t speak directly to someone’s heart to offer these words? What about the verse that follows "pride goes before a fall" which says, "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones" (Proverbs 16:24)? Does He actually give "an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary: (Is. 50:4), and doesn’t Proverbs say that "an anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up" (12:25)?

I don’t what to know how many people over the course of those years walked away from me feeling as if their "gift" was rejected. Maybe they would plan harder next time how they could get through to my heart. Maybe they would resign themselves to not even bother.

All the while, I was feeling pretty comfortable in my " righteousness," measuring each kind word as a test to my humility.

I don’t claim now to be an expert in knowing how to respond perfectly to appreciation. My own shyness is still involved. But I do know that there is nothing wrong with answering (c): "Thank you." "Thank you, that really helps me, because knowing that I did okay in what I’m supposed to do takes the pressure off of me, and helps me know that HE can freely work. And thanks for caring enough to let me know."

Copyright ©1996 Vineyard Music Group All Rights Reserved.

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