Compliments

“You Sing Well”

Hands down, the most common compliment that I receive is about my singing voice. It always happens. Even if I prepared a sermon for 15 hours, the benediction that I sing is what gets commented on: I didn’t know you had such a nice singing voice. It makes me wonder if people just do not know what to expect when I open my mouth, or if it is distinctly different from my speaking voice. I suspect not, just that people are surprised by singing. Sure I’ve trained it a bit, and I have a few tricks up my sleeve, but it is just my voice, and I really don’t want to be praised for what I praise God with. So I am reticent to sing, alone, out in the open. I’ll sing in a choir, or in the congregation, and occasionally among a group of others who raise money, like our Div school fundraiser. And the rare solo in church.

What really gets me is that I like the praise. I know I can sing. I know that I am nearly always on pitch and able to hear what I am to sing. (Unless my ears are stopped up, like this past few weeks.) I desire the compliment. I want the praises. It feels good to be appreciated.

And that scares me. It is why I avoid it. The solos.

I will sing anyway, I love to sing. I like the way notes feel in my mouth and how they run together in my head. But when I sing in worship it shouldn’t be about me. It is about God, who gave me the ability to sing, and praise in this way. And so, how do I use the gift God has given me, and still remain humble about it?

One thing I do is when I hear someone else who sings beautifully is I tell them. Yes, I realize that I may be creating a cycle of craziness here, but I do it anyway. Because it does feel good. And I know that. God’s gifts should be noticed.

Wallace Stegner says the hardest thing to compliment is someone else’s character, and so more than listening to someone else singing, I will watch those around me and seek out character. And that is what I want to notice and praise. It takes more. It takes more energy. If I like someone’s shirt I really may be saying that I just covet it. But to say that another’s character is attractive, that takes far more.

I like the way you follow God and attend to the gifts that you have been given. If it is true, it is the best compliment that one could receive. Make me worthy to receive it.

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1 thought on “Compliments”

  1. In a case like this, the best reply I’ve heard is “give God the glory.” That accepts their praise and then redirects it to the real source of all that beauty and grace. And, yes, the benediction was beautiful.

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