Friday, June 1, 2007

Thought-Provoking Question

Alright, all you blog readers, deep thinkers, and occassional is your assignment. I'm going to ask a thought-provoking question and you can give me your best answer either as a comment here or as a link to your blog where you have shared your vast wisdom. Ready? My husband and I have discussed this and I would like to hear your thoughts too.

The book The Five Love Languages explains that one way people express and receive love is through encouraging words (I would be one of them). Assuming that God created this in a person (which I believe He did) how does one reconcile the desire and appreciation of encouraging words without being someone who is driven by seeking the praise of man (Matt.6:1-5 speaks of doing righteous deeds and praying in a certain manner, in front of man, to be noticed by them, honoured by them etc. Jesus says in doing that those people have already received, through the praise of man, their reward in full.)

Have at it. Discuss with your spouse, read the Word, and let me know what you think. Some of you lurkers may even feel like commenting and sharing your wisdom.

Looking forward to reading your input!

Saturday, June 2, 2007 - Great question…
Posted by Jeremy
Here’s my go at it… If someone has done something well and we fail to praise him or her for it, then I think we have not fulfilled our responsibility as a friend, a spouse, a church, a co-worker, etc. Too often there isn’t enough praise given because we fear stoking the flames of vanity. But giving or receiving praise for accomplishment isn’t vanity. Let’s take singing, for sake of argument. If you sang a solo for the glory of God yet no one complimented you, you might be discouraged and think you have not accomplished what you wanted to do. It is for God and you want the solo to be excellent. Praise from your listeners confirms your job was done well. Also, singing a solo in front of a congregation is supposed to impact the audience. If it was just for God alone, then you would only sing in the shower. Praise confirms that people were effected. C.S. Lewis talked about this in Mere Christianity and John Piper picks up on it. When we read a great book, listen to a great song or watch a great film, we tell our friends about it; we “praise” it. When someone accomplishes something, and someone praises him or her, it is a confirmation that the accomplishment was enjoyable and that it affected you. To praise something is also enjoyable… I mean, why do I go on and on about Homer on my blog? By praising it, I am enjoying it anew. (So, to not accept praise for a solo would hinder someone’s fulfilled enjoyment)

As a church we are called to build each other up, to recognize, acknowledge and hone the gifts of the saints. This is done it part through praise. God created humans with unique gifts to be used well. By praising His creation and what His created beings have done, we are ultimately praising Him. Stradivarius violins are the best violins in the world. When the violin is played well, we marvel at the instrument but ultimately we praise Stradivarius himself, the creator. Vanity is when we do something for praise in order to elevate ourselves over God and over others. To seek praise for encouragement and confirmation is actually an outgrowth of a humble heart. Instead of having high esteem for your talents, you have high esteem for those you are seeking to serve by seeking praise from their lips, not your own.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 - What we give, not what we get...
Posted by MrsPages at
I've been thinking on this all weekend.

First off, I think the Love Languages book is excellent and has helped MrPages and I in many ways.

But I can't help thinking that the Love Languages are supposed to be about what we give, not about what we get.

It's sort of like Paul's instruction to husbands and wives. It's not our responsibility to get our husbands to love us; it is our responsibility to respect them.

It is not our responsibility to get others to love us in a manner that we desire. It is our responsibility to love others in a manner that speaks to their hearts.

And I guess the down side of this, is that we may not get the love we desire from the person we most love. And that is probably the part of my Christian walk that I most detest, and I most fail at.

I have tons more that I could add, about communication, and conflict resolution, and stuff...but another day.

• Tuesday, June 5, 2007 - This is good!
Posted by bestsister
I think MrsPages has touched on what my problem with this question has been all along. And I think Jeremy gives me a bit of clarity in dividing my one question in to two parts.

I completely agree with MrsPages that in my home, in loving my spouse, in serving my children, it is about what I give, not what I get (as grating as that can be to sit under sometimes). Here, in the domestic arena, I know what is required of me regardless of feedback: For example, I am expected to feed my children a healthy meal. Whether or not they praise me and give me encouraging words for my veggie and tofu stir fry is not the point.

However, in serving at Church and using the gifts the Lord has given me, the feed back that Jeremy is talking about is crucial, most times, to see that the work He has called me to is indeed glorifying Him and meeting the needs of others. Now having said that, I know there have been and will continue to be many times that we serve in the church (background or foreground) and never get 'noticed'. I know there will be times where serving the Lord will result in persecution, not praise. But I do think that part of my joy in serving the Lord is see His people respond to Him the way He intends.

However in both the domestic and the corporate, if I am serving IN ORDER TO RECEIVE the comments and praise, instead of being motivated by LOVE than I have missed the point, and have received my reward in full.

Does that make sense?
Thanks for your input. I hope more still come.

• Wednesday, June 6, 2007 - heavenly hash and heavenly beings....
Posted by halfpint
I was ruminating over this with a bowl of heavenly hash.... Your blog made me think of angels. We see them all throughout the bible going place to place to fulfill God's calling for them. They are so beautiful that people are tempted to bow down and worship them. What is their response? Basically it's ' get up! don't worship me! I'm only the messenger here to do my master's bidding! Worship Him! He is the worthy one!" They are seen fighting in His army and proclaiming his glory from the heavens both when He was born in Bethlehem and now in heaven around His throne......"Holy, Holy, Holy!" What struck me about them is how unassuming they are. You don't hear them say "yes I'm fabulous, go ahead and admire me." They know what they were created for and they DO it. Do we know what we were created for? Why did God make all things? 'For His Glory' as the catechism says. John Piper says our chief end is to 'glorify God and enjoy him forever.' I am reminded of a human example in all of this. There is a man in my extended family...... he has been a faithful husband, father and servant in his church. He is not dynamic or a great speaker or singer but he serves with all he is again and again and again. I would be surprised if he gets thanks very often or any form of praise. He serves his sick spouse and has for many years and continues to help out his children when they are in need though they are fully grown. I see Christ in him and I see a reflection of the angels in his unassuming manner.
It is wonderful to give encouragement, I'm all for it. Instead of saying "you have a fabulous voice" or "you are such a talented speaker" perhaps people should be saying.... "Thank-you for your ministry to God, it has blessed me" or " God spoke to me through you." I think our lack of confidence in ministry and life in general might be a reflection of us not knowing God deeply enough, how He see us and how we see Him. It might also be a lack of understanding of what the word service means which Barb and her friend have mentioned. My prayer for my life is that I can see past myself to get to the reality of seeing HIM. amen.

No comments: