Good Compliment

I can live on a good compliment for six months.Mark Twain


Recently two senior Christian leaders visited my wife and me.


One of them conveyed a cool, censorious, and detached manner as he doled out dry, emotionless suggestions on how we should improve. For several days we carried his bags, pampered him in his whims, and catered to his idiosyncrasies.


As he departed to “minister” at his next destination, we found ourselves left with a curious mixture of angst and relief.


A few days later the other Christian leader visited with us. Traveling as he was with his severely infirmed wife, his circumstances were extremely trying. Yet he managed to convey a gracious, sensitive, and caring spirit.


In the course of his interaction with our friends, he commented (in my presence), “Dwight is a faithful man.


I am amazed at how that one brief encouraging remark has bolstered me in the week or two since it was uttered: “This fine Christian leader believes I am a faithful man‘”!


Hey! I can live on that compliment for six months! And it cost him nothing to offer it.


As I reflected back on these two men, two Scriptures came to mind:

  • Regarding the censorious gentleman: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue… ” (Proverbs 18:21a)
  • Regarding the gracious gentleman: Paul said of Onesiphorus, He often refreshed my spirit… ” (2 Timothy 1:16b)

QUESTION: How are you doing in the compliment department? Do you come off as coolly detached, or as compassionately involved? When was the last time you took a colleague aside and gave him or her a word of encouragement? Or put your arm around your spouse or one of your kids and said, “I think you are dynamite! I am proud of you!


The cost of giving a compliment is infinitesimal, but the reward to the recipient could be immeasurable: Perhaps six months of a bolstered spirit!




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