What Your Heart Says

One of the tricky things you face in ministry is how to handle praise from people–particularly I think, when you are on a platform.  For good or bad, right or wrong, people enjoy giving praise to those who contribute something in the public eye. Pastors face it. Worship team members face it. We all face it. And in the body of Christ, it can be a somewhat tricky thing to navigate. I’ve seen two extremes.

On the one hand, you have those who respond with a disguised pridefulness that says something like, “Oh it wasn’t me! It’s all God. It’s all Him. Yep, He gave ME that song. Yep, He gave ME those abilities.” The tone of voice and body language of this response really indicates it’s all about ME, no matter how much I say the word “God.” I heard a pastor jokingly say, “If I were you, I wouldn’t give credit to God … because it wasn’t THAT good.”

On the other extreme, you have those who upon receiving a “Hey, great job today!” or “Thanks for leading us today!” they hang their head and turn away almost in shame. I think there is an equally veiled type of pride involved in this response as well. It gives the impression that you don’t care what that person is saying to you. That they are not important enough for you to graciously receive the compliment.

As with most things in life, I believe there is a middle ground that we can find. This is one of those lessons that I learned from my dad early on. He would always tell me to receive the compliment with humility by looking the person in the eye, say “thank you” with a sincere smile, and then turn that compliment back into praise to the Lord. He would tell me to quickly go to that secret place in my heart and make sure that compliment gets out of my heart and into the throne room of God. He would say, “Josh, just say a very quick one-sentence prayer…something like, ‘God, this praise is Yours. Not mine.'” He would tell me to simply REMEMBER the Lord in those moments.

There’s a powerful passage in Deuteronomy chapter 8 where Moses reminds the children of Israel of all that God had instructed them. He said:

17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

Moses’ warning to God’s people is a warning for us today. Though the situation might be different, the principle remains true. Be careful what your heart says.

Be careful what your heart says.

Be careful that your heart doesn’t say, “It’s MY talent and MY creativity that has gotten be where I am today. Be careful that your heart doesn’t say, “It’s MY power, MY skill, MY success, MY associations, MY will-power, MY dreams, MY _________. Fill in the blank.

Be careful what your heart says. Moses warned the people to “REMEMBER the Lord your God” in those moments. Remember where everything comes from. Remember the giver of good gifts. Remember that He is the potter. Remember that you are but clay.

We all have our platforms. Whether they are a literal platform or a figurative one. From time to time, we all receive a word of congratulations and a word of praise. In those moments, remember the Lord. Quickly return that word of praise to Jesus. Check your heart. Don’t let that praise stay in there. Send it up to Jesus where it belongs.