Thursday, October 10, 2013


I recently read this post and LOVED it. It reminded me of a concept that my husband Paul has been teaching me about. Paul hates to give generic compliments. He doesn't want to just say "you look pretty" or "good sermon" - he wants to tell you why you look good or why your sermon was awesome. He wants the compliment to be specific and helpful. 

This often gets him into trouble - in his attempts to explain why he likes something he will try to be creative - and this can lead to awkward compliments like "You look great, like a pirate" or "Your hair is cool, like a chia pet" or "You look like you get dressed in a clown car and still look good". His intentions are good, but his delivery....not so much. 

However I see how he does this well often and it's inspiring. When Paul compliments me I know why what I am doing is valuable and can then focus on that. If he likes my outfit "because the boots are cool" then I know he likes my boots and I should wear them again. Rather than just saying, "you look good" leaving me with no idea of what he likes. Now these are more shallow examples but that's where it starts. 

I think, though, that this is super important as we get into the realm of more important topics. When someone tells me they like my house or decorating, I'm like, "cool." It's nice that they like my house, and yes I did decorate my house so I like receiving compliments but I'm not sure why they like my house or if I've achieved the goals I have for decorating my home. However if someone says "I love how you have decorated your home, it feels homey and inviting, and also like you are expecting people to have a good time there" - now THAT helps me. Not only does that feel good to hear (duh) but it also helps me know if I reached my goal. (My goal being that people would feel my home is inviting and comfortable. That it would look like I wanted it to be welcoming and pulled together, without being intimidating. I want it to be polished and attractive, yet homey and functional).

When someone shares a testimony or preaches I don't say to them, "You were awesome", I say "You were awesome - you managed to get me engaged at the start of your sermon, and then kept me wanting to follow along all the way." That way it can help them know if they are on route to reaching their goals.

And BONUS, this means I have to think about why I like things. Why did I like your sermon? Am I programmed to tell you you were good? Or was there something I really liked, and what was that? 

For example, on Sunday Pastor Greg was talking on Revelation and End Times. He does a great lesson on this in Kingdom Life Ministry School. When he does that talk at KLMS it's a talk, not a sermon. It's about teaching us something that related to God or Christianity  but isn't necessarily about the state of our heart before God. His talk is great though and it's something we needed to hear. So what he did for Sunday, was take a great talk, and find a way to explain it in a way that points us to faith, and shows us our need for Jesus. He makes a good lesson into a great Christ-Cenetered Sermon. So when I texted him to tell him that his sermon was AMAZING, I explained the above info and how thankful I was he took the time to craft such a powerful sermon. I didn't just say "Good job" or "You were great".

Paul and I are so used to talking this way that we don't even think about it that much anymore - and we find it confusing to receive compliments that aren't in this format. The other day someone at church texted Paul and myself randomly and separately and said to both of us "You're awesome." Apparently we both texted him back right away with, "why?". We didn't even know how to receive the compliment because we didn't know what we were being complimented for or why! The person told us it was obvious we had been married to each other for a while now. 

I think we can help boost the confidence of those around us and help them grow if we can be specific in our compliments. We have constructive criticism already as a goal - what about constructive compliments? 


PMorgan said...

Love you!

The Porters' Lodge said...

I constructively shared this on Facebook because you are right -- let's stop focusing on only being constructive about negative things.

John and Becca said...

I really liked this post because it reminded me to be specific. I am terrible at generalizations. I say things are "great" "good" and "nice" all the time. Quite boring and overused words.
Thanks for the reminder Tara! :)


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