How to Accept a Compliment

Accepting a compliment is sometimes difficult to do. It may seem prideful to accept praise. Am I boasting if I acknowledge a compliment?

In order to not appear to be boasting, I may be tempted to respond by putting myself down. However, this tactic can make me look like I’m fishing for more praise or devalue the gift of the compliment.

What usually happens if you respond to a compliment by saying something like, “Aw, it was nothing.” or Well, I actually made a lot of mistakes.”? The usual response would be something like, “No really–you did a great job.” And the other person may wonder if you put yourself down just to get another word of praise.

Also, a compliment is a gift, and contradicting the comment of approval is a rejection of that gift and an insult to the person offering it.

So how can you graciously accept praise without boasting?

Try these tips:

  • Look the person in the eye and say a simple, “Thank you,” with a smile.
  • Respond by telling the person how the compliment made you feel like, “Wow, your words really made my day.”
  • Don’t water down your, “Thank you,” with a self-deprecating comment.
  • If appropriate, respond by complimenting the other person. For instance, if a co-worker compliments your work on a joint project, you could also praise that person’s efforts.
View a compliment as a gift and accept it graciously.

Boasting in the Cross

photo by Justin Marty

“A man has a right to toot his own horn to his heart’s content, so long as he stays in his own home, keeps the windows closed and does not make himself obnoxious to his neighbors.”

“As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Galatians 6:14 NLT

Precious Jesus, thank you for teaching me about how to use the gift of speech. Please give me sensitivity to others when I am talking. May my words be full of wisdom, humility, and grace. And may all traces of pride and bragging be erased. Instead help me to boast about all You have done for me! May my words tell of Your redeeming love, Your amazing forgiveness, and Your unlimited mercy. In Your name, Amen.

Are You a One-Upper?

Report Card
photo by Mark Gstohl

Tell the truth:

When your friend tells you about her latest sale purchase, do you jump in and tell her all about your even better bargain?
When your neighbor tells you about her son’s good grades, do you immediately tell her about your daughter’s straight-A report card?
When your cousin tells you about her trip to Florida, do respond by giving every little detail about your Italian vacation?
If you see yourself in those situations, you might be a one-upper!
One-upmanship is the practice of outdoing a friend or competitor. We all know people like this. You tell them you’ve been to Chicago and they’ve been to New York. You’ve been to New York and they’ve been to London. You’ve been to London and they’ve been to Hong Kong. You’ve been to Hong Kong, they’ve been to the….Space Station.
Well, I might be exaggerating. 
What’s wrong with one-upmanship?
  • One-upmanship is a form of bragging. One uppers are subtly saying, “I’m better than you are.”
  • One-upmanship makes the other person inferior. Now, for some people this is the whole point, but other people may innocently think they are just contributing to the conversation without realizing the effect their words have on the other person.
  • One-upmanship does not display humilty. Can you imagine Jesus playing the one-upmanship game? Hardly.

So how can we stop ourselves from participating in this harmful practice?

  • Examine your motives. Before you share your kid’s latest accomplishments or recount your most recent business success, ask yourself why you are telling the news. Is it to make you feel superior to the other person?
  • Take time to celebrate. When your friend shares a story of her achievement, be sure to congratulate her and hear all the details before you share your own good news.
  • “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15). At times we need to sacrifice our need to talk about ourselves and simply share in our friend’s joy!

I admit I used participate in one-upmanship, thinking I was holding up my end of the conversation. But when others one-upped me, I realized how it made me feel–inferior and second-rate. At times I still slip up, but my own experience has made me more sensitive to how I share my own good news (even if it is about my latest bargain!)

Nothing to Boast About?

For some of you, curbing your boasting is not the problem.
Maybe you never felt you had anything to boast about.
Maybe you recently endured a setback or experienced a failure and are feeling shame instead of pride.
Maybe you just plain messed up and feel like hiding instead of bragging.
I want to tell you today that shame is not the opposite of boasting.
Just because we feel we do not have anything to boast about does not mean we have to feel shame. If we have received Christ’s righteousness through faith in Him, we do not have to be ashamed. When I mess up, I may initially feel like a failure, but I remind myself that Jesus forgives my mistakes and washes me clean.
Look at Titus 3. This chapter will help us to remember that our self-worth is not based on what we have done or not done.
  • Nothing to boast about:

God “saved us, not because of righteous things we had done” (Titus 3:5a). I can’t boast about the good things I have done.

  • Nothing to feel ashamed about:

“But because of his mercy, He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5b). But even if I can’t boast about my excellent behavior, I do not have to be ashamed because the Holy Spirit has washed me clean.

  • Something to  boast about:

“Having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). Here is something to boast about! We are princesses–heirs of the Almighty King!

God doesn’t want us to boast, but He doesn’t want us to live in shame either. Accept Christ’s cleansing forgiveness and boast about your royal status!

Some questions to consider:

How does boasting hinder my relationship with God?
How does shame hinder my relationship with God?



Instead of Boasting–Praise!

Awaken the Dawn
photo by .:Axle:.

Instead of boasting, I am learning to praise! 

And especially–to praise God.

This is not something I am naturally good at. I love to read the Bible, but my prayer life is not always all it should be. And then when I do pray, my prayers often morph into a wish list for myself and my loved ones.

This week I want to concentrate on praising God. So I asked myself a few questions:
  • Why should we praise God? He already knows everything and so He also knows that He is loving, strong, just, merciful, patient… Then I thought of how I feel when I receive a compliment. Suddenly my mood lifts, the world seems brighter, the sky seems bluer. Maybe praising God also makes His day!
  • How do we praise? Praise is to express admiration of God’s character and glory. It is not thanking Him for things He has done for us, although that is also a good thing to do. Praise statements begin with, “Lord, you are…”
  • What should we praise God for? When we are reading God’s Word, we can look for references to God attributes and praise Him for those.

Here are a few to get you started:

  • Lord, I praise You because You are faithful.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands”. Deuteronomy 7:9

  • Lord, I praise you because You are loving.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

  • Lord, I praise You because You are merciful.

“But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.” Nehemiah 9:31

  • Lord, I praise You because You are my Burden Bearer.

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19

For more insight look at this list of 31 Ways to Praise.



The Proper Way to Brag

We all know we’re not supposed to boast, brag about ourselves, or toot our own horns. But sometimes we do need to tell others about ourselves to promote our business or to get a job. How can be promote ourselves without obnoxious bragging?

Here a few tips:

  • Don’t give a laundry list of accomplishments.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others when you are telling about yourself. (For more information see this article about non-comparative boasting)
  • State the facts succinctly.
  • Talk about your accomplishments in a conversational manner. Don’t be overbearing. (For more information, see this article about bragging and careers.) 
  • Don’t exaggerate.
  • Watch your body language. Don’t look stern or aloof–instead look positive and enthusiastic. (For more information see this article about talking about your accomplishments without bragging.

We can learn how to promote ourselves and our business when necessary without becoming braggarts.


Boast All the Day Long


“God is to be praised with the voice, and the heart should go therewith in holy exultation.” 
Charles H. Spurgeon 

“In God we make our boast all day long,
   and we will praise your name forever.”
 Psalm 44:8
Praise Your name O God! May I praise you not just on Sundays. May I boast about your love every day. May I brag about your mercy all the time. My tendency is to draw attention to me, but help me to focus everyone’s eyes on what you have done for me.  

This is Boasting? Part 2

Podium in the screening room
photo by rick

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 

2 Corinthians 12:9

After I wrote yesterday’s post, I remembered a time when I did boast in my weaknesses. It was when I first started speaking to women’s groups. You see, I think God has a marvelous sense of humor in calling me to speaking. I am basically a shy and quiet person. I don’t always have a lot to say. So what am I doing at the speaker’s podium?

When I first started speaking, my knees were knocking and my heart was racing. I definitely did not look like a polished speaker. Yet the Lord blessed my efforts and every time I spoke that first year, women came to know Jesus for the first time. Very exciting!

That was definitely a time to boast about my weakness. I was a weak speaker, but Christ’s power was at work.

Please boast about a time when you were weak, but Christ was strong.

This is Boasting?

photo by jerryonlife

Today I read something the apostle Paul wrote:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
Paul, this is boasting?
Talking about your weakness?
Sharing about your faults?
Bragging about your frailty?
That wouldn’t go over so well at a press conference. Talking like that would not work very well at a job interview. That strategy would not be advised at a networking event.
Paul could have bragged about his travels, boasted about the great crowds he spoke to, and impressed everyone with the number of converts he led to the Lord. But he decided instead to boast about his weaknesses. His reasoning? “That the power of Christ may rest on me.”
One thing I have noticed about my words: what I say affects my thoughts and attitudes. When I do a lot of complaining, the world looks pretty bleak to me. If I talk instead about what I am grateful for, things don’t seem so bad, even though the circumstances may be the same.
So if I start bragging about my accomplishments, I may start to forget that God is the one that enabled me to finish those projects. If I boast about my abilities, I may lean on my own puny strength instead of God’s almighty power.
Boasting about my weaknesses? I may not be there yet–who wants to admit their faults? But as we learn to wean the attention off ourselves and onto the Lord we will be relying on His strength.

When Boasting Ends

photo by snowpeak

When boasting ends, there dignity begins.
 Owen D. Young

I will extol the LORD at all times;
   his praise will always be on my lips.
 My soul will boast in the LORD;
   let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
 Glorify the LORD with me;
   let us exalt his name together. 
Psalm 34:1-3
Dear Father, Help me to remember not to boast in myself. My abilities, my family, my material possessions are all gifts from you. May I instead boast in You. Help me to remember to praise your goodness, tell others of your grace, and boast in your provision. Thank you Father, Amen.