[by Dean Smith] It was not a shining moment in my life.
The pressure had been building and finally I couldn’t take it anymore.
Slowly, I got up from my desk and walked down the hall to a co-worker’s office. Stepping into his doorway, I asked him what he thought of the last issue of the publication I worked on. I thought I had cleverly worded the question so he wouldn’t think I was fishing for a compliment.
I remember the awkward silence, the pained look on his face, and then the forced compliment.
Instead of experiencing the usual euphoria that accompanied a compliment, my coworker’s reaction put a heavy damper on my spirit.
Why did I need to do this?
There was only one reason. I was a “glory” addict and I needed my fix.
It was one of the things I hated most about myself. I had this deep insecurity in my life and I craved the approval of man.
But I am not alone in this struggle. Whether it’s a pastor seeking affirmation after he preached a good message Sunday morning or a woman fishing for compliments on her clothes or an athlete needing reassurance on his play, many crave complements and the momentary satisfaction it brings.
But once the initial high is gone, the emptiness and self-doubt returns and slowly the need for another compliment begins to build.
Jesus touched on this issue early in His ministry. He understood the danger and traps associated with receiving compliments and praise from man.
In John 5:41, Jesus said:
“I don’t receive glory from man.”
The glory Jesus was talking about was the praise and adulation that men can pour on people. Three verses later Jesus tells us why:
“How can you believe when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (v 44 NASV)
This is such a profound statement, because Jesus tells us that when you receive the praises of men, you will struggle in the area of faith.
In other words, if you receive man’s glory — even a positive compliment — it inevitably sows a seed of unbelief in your heart. It’s unbelief in who you are in Christ, unbelief in God’s call and giftings. It can even create unbelief in your innate abilities and skills — you are only good at something, when someone says you are.
My constant craving for man’s approval threw me into an endless circle. I would fish for a compliment, receive it and for a moment bask in the glory. But it was fleeting and would ultimately create unbelief and emptiness in my heart and I would desperately start looking for my next fix.
If you experience similar struggles, I want to share how the Holy Spirit worked in my life to deal with this weakness in my life. I have not fully arrived but am on a journey to wholeness.
Do not “receive” man’s praise
Jesus said “I don’t receive man’s glory.” It’s a strong, adamant statement with no room for compromise.
We can’t stop people from complimenting us — but when it happens it is important not to receive it.
In other words, control your emotional response to the praise. Don’t bask in it. Don’t relive the event in your mind. (I presume I am not the only one who has done this.)
Let the words slide off you.
Many years ago, a series of events took place that the Holy Spirit used to show me this principle.
Somebody had criticized the publication I worked on by simply pointing out a mistake. His words sent me into a tail spin. I became depressed and seriously considered quitting my job.
But then a few days later, another person gave me a compliment. In an instant, my depression broke. I was elated and went from having urges to quit to a willingness to work day and night on the publication.
What a roller coast of emotions.
I remember so clearly the tap on my shoulder from the Holy Spirit. The euphoria I was feeling from the pat on the back had the same root as the depression I experienced days earlier. Both find their source in needing to receive glory from men and both are equally a problem — one was the negative side of it, the other the positive.
If you suffer similar depression when criticized, I want to give you the solution to fixing the problem. Stop the euphoria that comes with a compliment. You must gain control of the emotional highs, to control the lows.
Jesus understood this and that is why He didn’t receive the praises of men. He didn’t let it penetrate His spirit, because it begins to control you. You can become addicted to man’s approval and as the addiction grows you will do anything for your next fix.
Like an addict you will sell your body and soul for the next high.
We all appreciate a compliment or pat on the back for a job well done, just don’t become dependent on them.