rebelling against low expectations

How should we respond to praise?


AMANDA WRITES: When someone says something encouraging to me, I usually fall into one of two traps: 1) Idolizing the person and thinking they are absolutely beyond amazing just because they said this one thing to me, or 2) Falling into complacency, thinking, “If so-and-so thinks that highly of me, then I’m doing pretty good — no need to worry about improving or changing anything!”

When people say encouraging things to us, what should our reaction be? How can we accept their encouragement without letting it get to our heads?

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are submitted by real rebelutionaries who are looking for godly answers to tough questions and lively conversation with other young adults. You can join the conversation by commenting below. If you'd like to submit your own discussion question, email us at [email protected].


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  • I get you! Just remember, try to be humble. We shouldn’t think so much of ourselves. God created us!

  • Hey Amanda,

    What I do, is I will try to attribute it to God, because in the end, He is the one who gave me all my gifts and abilities and He could take them away.

    When someone compliments me, I believe the best thing to do is to think, “Awesome! Thank you, God for so and so, and that you used me to affect this person. Please help me to effect so and so even more with your love and truth.”
    (Something like that)

    Recently God has helped me confront the problems of pride and jealousy in my life. Normally when someone compliments me for doing well on stage, I think, “Awesome! Now that they liked it, I feel relieved”.

    Because I cared so much of what they thought of me.

    But in the end, God taught me that what people think doesn’t matter, even for how much He can use me to be an influence on those people.

    So as I gave my story of overcoming these things to my Student Ministry, I stuttered and forgot the scripture I was quoting, but I still poured my heart out.

    I thought I didn’t do so well, but as the feelings of pride started to come back, I thought, “It doesn’t matter. God, you can decide to use my story or not. I do this all for you and because of you.” (Something like that)

    I felt lighter because I didn’t need to worry about what they thought. All I needed to worry about was what God thought. And I know He loves me more then anything.

    What about you? Could it be the reason you struggle with taking compliments well because of a lack of trust in God’s love? All you need to do, saved or unsaved, is give it all to Jesus and let Him take it off your hands.

    • I love the points you brought up Trent, especially the last one on trusting God. Something I have been learning is that when we get to the crossroads of “Trusting God” or “Pleasing God” we so often choose to try to please Him – but as we go down this road we find self-effort, pride, fear of not “doing” enough, etc. I think we also start to really struggle with how to accept praise, I know I have… simply because we get so caught up in pleasing (God, others, ourselves) and this focuses us on our image and what we are doing in our life which leads to pride or fear. I have been working on choosing to head down the road of trusting God, which is marked by grace, abiding in Christ, peace, joy, and I think it makes it so much easier to accept praise. As our eyes are no longer on ourselves but rather fixed on our Savior’s face as we trust Him. We can rest assured that He is working for good and I know for myself, suddenly accepting praise isn’t so hard because we know we do not do anything apart from HIm and we are excited to share the work God is doing in our lives with others. This trust really releases us and sets us free – as you mentioned Trent, He takes it off our hands, because when we trust, suddenly we are not working on our own or in our own efforts and we don’t need to worry about having the “right” response because we know our God has it all under control and we are following Him.

  • Corrie Ten Boom had a great saying that I’ll loosely paraphrase here. She said, “When someone comes up to me and says that I gave a nice speech or that I was a brave person to help the Jews, I collect the compliments like flowers. At the end of the day I’ll take them to the Lord and say, ‘Here. These are yours.’ ”
    I may be seconding @trent_blake:disqus , but the key is to attribute everything back to the God who gave us everything in the first place. If we can do that, I believe that we’ll be very much on the right track. Hope that helps!

  • Just attribute your success to God and give him the glory for your talents. You can be grateful to the person for complimenting you, and it’s not bad to feel good about yourself because of it. However, just don’t let that make you feel like you’re the top of the world. Although that pride trap is easy to fall into, it’s more rewarding to just stay out of it. If you manage to keep humble despite the praise, then you will become even more likely to get complimented. And the more that you resist becoming prideful, the more rewarding the compliments are all around.

    Hope this helps. 🙂

    P.S. Is this the same Amanda that I was talking to before?

      • Cool! Your question was a pertinent one that I know many people (including myself) can suffer from. Thanks. I’ve been fine recently. School work and some script writing have been taking up all my time recently. How’ve you been?

        And I’m really embarrassed to ask this, but what did I ask you to pray for? I can’t remember. 😛 I may be able to give you an update, depending on what it was.

        • Oh that’s fine…I forget sometimes too. 🙂 You were talking about wanting to build better friendships and making decisions about college.

          I’ve been fine, but really busy with school and such.

          • And how are you doing? It seems like forever since we chatted on SOG. Good times…

          • I’m alright…just kinda stressed…and I usually get really down at night. But at the same time God has been teaching me a lot lately, and it’s been awesome. So it depends on the day–sometimes I think my life is great, sometimes I think it’s a mess. Maybe it’s a great mess. 😛

          • Oh that’s right! Thanks a lot! It means a lot to know that you remembered (even when I forgot!). I definitely am building better friendships with my close friends. I only have about three or four really close friends, but we’re becoming tighter and more trusting of each other I think. And college…well, my time is coming, and I kind of think I know what I’m supposed to do.

            Hey, last night, God did something awesome to me! I’ll tell you the story, but only if you want to hear it. I don’t want to sound pushy or anything. 🙂

          • So basically, youth was one long worship service. Our youth pastor had been saying that he didn’t feel like he was supposed to preach the message that he had planned, so we all just stayed worshiping, not going into a message. We prayed for people who needed healing, we prayed for those whose friends and relatives weren’t saved, stuff like that. Well, I went up for healing of a mental thing I have that I didn’t share, and this sixth grader boy came and prayed for me. Now, me and this boy have had a history. He’s pretty rambunctious, and I’ve had to work with him in kid’s church for years. In fact, there’s actually about five or six crazy boys in youth that are like that. I think you get the picture.

            But standing there watching him pray for me, I had just some thought come into my head. I thought it was something random, but good, and the youth pastor had said that if we had something we felt we should share, we should go and talk to him. So I did. I basically said that when you work with kids, you may never see the fruit of your labor. The kids may be goofing off when you’re trying to teach them something, but I realized that we teenage leaders have a bigger impact on the kids than we realize. And after seeing the boy pray for me, that realization hit me.

            And then, something even crazier happened! Robert (the youth pastor) told me that he had just figured out why he wasn’t supposed to preach a message! He said that what I told him was EXACTLY what he needed to hear, since he was feeling a little depressed about not making a big enough or noticeable enough impression in our lives. He said that he finally figured out why God hadn’t given him peace about the message, and that he believed that God spoke to him through me!

            In the end, I doubt any person in that service didn’t feel something from God. I know I sure did! It was a great service, but that was the first time I had ever felt God speaking through me to someone else. It was crazy! Sorry for the book of a post, but I had to tell the whole story to do it justice.

            And, it goes right into your discussion question about what to do with praise! I will just try to do what Paul did, which is boast in what God was able to do through him. I’ll try to keep that in mind.

            Whew! Do you have any crazy God stories?

          • When we were in Thailand visiting family a few years ago, my dad got sick from what we think was food poisoning. He ended up in the hospital overnight because the doctors wanted to do some tests to make sure he was OK. That night, he began having classic heart attack symptoms, the tingling in the left arm and all that. My mom freaked out and ran to get the nurses, managing to find one who spoke English. They ended up calling in a cardiologist at like 3 in the morning, and he came in the room and told my dad, “you had a heart attack.” And my dad was like, “no I didn’t!” My dad had thought he was just having really bad heartburn and had asked for antacids. By the time the cardiologist arrived, he was already feeling completely normal. He thought if he had had a heart attack he would feel much worse than he did! Nevertheless, the cardiologist said, “I wouldn’t be her at 3:00 in the morning if I didn’t think you had a heart attack.” So they did all the normal tests, the EKG and such, and didn’t find any blockage or damage or anything. My dad still insisted he had NOT had a heart attack. The next day we were told what had happened and went to visit him and he seemed totally normal.

            When we got back home, my dad saw a cardiologist here, who concluded that he hadn’t had a normal heart attack but had had something called myocarditis, which is when the heart enlarges temporarily. Apparently this was caused by all the antibiotics the Thai nurses had put in him because of his sickness.

            I’m thankful that my dad is still alive (actually he was climbing waterfalls with us a couple days after his “episode”), and that his “episode” happened while he was already in the hospital. I’m also glad he doesn’t have any blockage like he would if he had a normal heart attack.

            Now we just joke about the VIP room he had with purple couches and a kitchen and big flat screen TV, and the pink outfit he had to wear in ICU. 😛

          • Wow! Sounds scary! And I know how it is about the joking part too. My dad had a severe allergic reaction to peaches a few years ago. His face swelled up and turned read, as did his hands and arms. Mom took him to the ER in time thankfully. Now we just joke about dad’s run-in with peaches. But nevertheless, good thing that both our dads are ok.

          • Yeah. Things are always funny after the fact! 😛

            Speaking of sharing awesome God stories, I have an idea for a project I might do, if you’d like to hear about it.

          • Well…let’s see…I’m trying to figure out how to summarize it. 😛 I sent Brett a big long email about it the other day. Here goes my attempt at being brief:

            I think it’d be cool to start a website–for teens or anyone who’s interested–that focuses on prayer. It would basically be a blog, but I’d have some other pages that just stayed there all the time (if you know what I mean…hard to describe those haha) that talked about prayer too. I want to emphasize the power of prayer and how important it is in the Christian life. Seems like a lot of people have missed the point these days, you know? I’d also share creative ways to pray and to make prayer a bigger part of your life. I’m thinking I’d also make a page where people could share stories about God working in awesome ways, which goes right along with the topic of prayer.

            Do you think it’s a good idea or would it be a waste of time?

          • No way! That’s a great idea! How convenient that the next movie by the Kendrick Brothers will be about prayer. Hey, if that’s what you feel like you should do, then go for it! I’ll be praying that it all works out. I agree with you a hundred percent. I’ve also got a little something, if you or mimeforJesus want to hear about it.

          • @disqus_LzTgmwudVU:disqus @graysonzaragoza:disqus Sorry to butt in…but @programguy:disqus, @disqus_rHUVb4P7uQ:disqus and @disqus_ynAwM455oe:disqus are coming up with a website called “Revive” (check out the “My Prayer Problem” comments) that’s going to be all about prayer. Y’all could talk to them if you wanted…just thought I’d let you know. =)

          • I wasn’t trying to rain on your parade, I just wanted to make sure you knew… better to know now, than when you’ve already put a lot of work into it, ya know?
            I had this idea too, but I didn’t act on it. Congratulations! You got farther than I ever did…

          • Well, basically, I’ve gotten into script writing. I’m not talking small stage plays, I’m talking feature films. I have two that I’m writing right now. The first one is a joint effort with my friend, who wants to become a writer. It’s a church comedy about a group of teens tasked with pulling a youth service together with hilarious results. Hopefully, we’ll be able to film this one with a bunch of our friends.

            The second one I’m working on will take much longer. It’s a superhero movie (or possibly trilogy) about a group of teenagers who gain powers. That may sound cliched, but there is a boatload of ideas that I have, that I believe are new and would be really cool in a movie. The only drawback: I would have to get a legit filmaking company to help me, as well as a professional, blockbuster director. The whole thing may not even work out, since I’m planning to go to college for engineering in a few years. Another unique thing about it is that the teens in the movies would learn about morality and such. There would be some very Christian elements in the story, as well as some neat action scenes.

            Anyway, that’s just a crazy idea I had.

          • Awesome! Crazy is good. 🙂 The world needs more good Christian filmmakers. It’d be super cool if those worked out for you!

          • Thanks. I don’t know if you can tell, but I like movies. Recently, I’ve especially enjoyed taking apart the story and effects elements of them all. You know, things like how they could have made the story better and such. I just wish there were more filmmakers who worked with more diligence and just made better movies. Maybe I’ll be able to impact that scene one day. Thanks, your encouragement helps. 🙂

          • Yeah that’d be cool if you could help improve things in that area someday. Don’t give up the idea just because it would be really hard. I’ll be praying for you about this too. 🙂

          • I’ll be praying for both of you with your ideas… Did you see @disqus_joshwhatshislastname:disqus’s comment about Revive, @disqus_LzTgmwudVU:disqus?

          • How come we live across the country from each other?! This is the sort of stuff I would love to act in! If we ever move near each other we have to collaborate 🙂
            It doesn’t seem very crazy to me…

          • It would be cool to possibly collaborate! I’m just wondering, but what state are you moving to?

            And hey, as I get to know more people, I realize that we have quite a team forming in my city. My brother films and edits, I write and direct, I have a few friends who act, another one films. It’s crazy! Now I just need someone who can work with physical and digital effects, then we can make some serious movies! But hey, it’s only a hobby now. But who knows, maybe it will take off and we can make something that can really impact others’ lives. You know, I’m open for some ideas and suggestions, if you have any. You too Amanda.

          • I’m moving to the Kansas/Missouri area, not yet sure which state.

            That’s cool – you must have a lot of friends to find that sort of talent 🙂
            Hmmm, I don’t have suggestions; whenever I write a story, I use all my ideas, and I don’t have many suggestions because I don’t really know screenplay.

          • Well, I can only speak with a certain amount of experience, since I’ve never really studied screenplays professionally or anything. But really, it’s just a story that focuses more on imagery and dialogue. And sometimes I do have a harder time with that since I am a visual-learning-type person, but I have a very hard time describing things with words. I’m not the best communicator you could say.

          • Oh, cool…
            Probably a stupid question, but now I’m confused… screenplay is intended for movies, isn’t it? Now it looks almost like it could be something meant to be read instead…

          • Screenplays are intended for movies, but they are supposed to be read. However, everything is visual, so it’s not like a book where you read what the characters are thinking. You only learn through visuals and dialogue. That’s the main difference. But it is meant to be read and understood, just not in the same way as a book. 🙂

          • Cool 🙂 I’ll have to try writing something like that! It sounds like a really interesting way to write, and it’d be a good exercise for me — I have a hard time writing dialogue that flows well.

          • There are a few times when I had a “cool God moment” – it
            may not seem that cool to other people, but it was pretty important to me.

            Last year, I was going through a hard time, trying to trust
            God when I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I’d say it was the biggest test of my faith
            I’ve had yet. Well, in the middle of
            this, I volunteered at a nearby church’s VBS program. When I got there, I saw a good friend who I
            hadn’t seen for nearly six months. I got
            to hang out with this friend a lot over the next week, and I’d totally not
            expected it. It was a cool reminder that
            God was still there, planning things for me even when I couldn’t see Him.

            A more visible time God interfered in my life was when I did
            this one performance with my mime group.
            It was right after we’d learned our routines for the year, and I always
            get excited/nervous before we perform stuff we just learned. Like usual, I had butterflies in my stomach…
            but it was worse than ever before. I
            didn’t understand why I was so uptight, but I figured it was just nerves. I kept going, just focusing on getting
            through the performance. I got through
            four of our routines, then we took a break and sat down while our younger team
            performed. I so needed that rest! Then I
            remembered – in my next routine, I was supposed to be a demon. That role, if done right, should be draining. I just knew that I wasn’t going to get
            through it by myself. Now, throughout
            all of this, I’d been praying that God would make me feel better. Then I changed. I realized that it wasn’t my job to dictate
            what He did; I started praying that He would get me through the
            performance. Long story short, I got a
            much longer break than I’d thought I would, then God got me through the rest of
            the performance.

            When I got
            home, I checked my temperature – it was 101 degrees. And I react a lot to fevers – normally when I
            have a 101-degree temperature, I’m out of commission; I’m not doing any school,
            staying in bed the whole day. There’s no
            way I got through that performance on my own strength.

          • Cool stuff. You never know when God will do that sort of thing. I remember one time I went rock climbing (out in the woods, not inside) and I didn’t have the right kind of shoes on. I had hiking boots on, which are terrible for climbing. I got halfway up the thirty-foot face and basically froze, which was a really bad thing to do. God seemed to help me get over my temporary paralysis, and I got over the ledge without falling.

            That one was scary.

            And you get fevers when you’re stressed out?!?! I’ve never heard that before. And what state are you moving to?

          • Hoo, that one sounds scary.

            No, I don’t get fevers from being stressed out… That time I got the fever like anyone else would, but I was used to feeling almost like that because I normally don’t feel well when I get stressed out (especially if I’m performing something new in front of a bunch of people).

            Oh, another cool God moment: So last night I was talking to you and a couple of other people on here about my move. I started almost feeling sorry for myself, wishing I could stay where I’m living.
            Then I decided to read my Bible for a little while before I went to bed, and instead of the New Testament, which I’ve been reading through for the past while, I went to the Old Testament. I opened it to a random place, and I noticed that I had something underlined on that first page.
            So I read it, and it was Genesis 12:1, which says “Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” So most of that doesn’t really match my situation, but leaving my land and my house really match up. It was pretty cool! 😀

          • Yeah! That scripture totally matches your situation, just in a modern way. Abraham didn’t really want to leave his hometown, but he trusted God and did it anyway, and look where he went with that! Maybe that’s what God is trying to show you. I’m sure he has even better things in store for your family.

          • I’d never thought of that! Thank you for being my bright light today 🙂
            Again, thank you – that kinda blew me away!

          • Wow, that would be so scary… My dad got sick recently and passed out; that was scary enough for me!
            But the pink bathrobe would be kinda funny…

          • Wow! That is amazing!
            Let me think and get back to you tomorrow… there have been times, bu how to explain without violating others’ privacy is a different matter. ttyl!

          • Okay, so… I’m really tired right now, and I should be in bed. So I’ll tell you about it tomorrow, ‘K? Sorry, but it would take way too long right now, for me to tell you a story.

  • Humility used to be something I lacked. I would strive for people attention and appreciation. It felt good to be known and complimented. However these compliments got to my head. I was prideful. It didnt feel right. So I pulled out my Bible and searched up “pride”.
    Proverbs 16:18 says “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before the fall.”
    Oh, so pride ISN’T right. Okay… this makes sense. So how am I supposed to act?
    1 Peter 5:5 says “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.””
    Pray for humility, and credit everything that you are to the One who made you. 🙂

  • I try to respond to praise with one of these three ways.
    1.) Praise God. This one is pretty cut and dried, since He is the one who gave me the gift and the strength to do it.
    2.) Sometimes I will try to credit my teacher, assistant, or someone who helped me do what I did.
    3.) Just a simple thank you sometimes is the best answer. The goal is to deflect attention and praise away from myself, and sometimes a simple “thank you” will do that more effectively than a longer, more “Christian” answer.

    Certainly, God is the giver of any talents I may have. He should receive the praise for them!

    • Yes. I definitely agree with you. Last school year, I got praised a lot by my teacher. I would always remind myself that God always gets the glory!

    • I was just reading “Start Here,” and they quoted a teenager who quoted a playwright who said, “I might as well praise you for having two eyes in your head!” referring to having talent. I read that and I was like, “That makes perfect sense!”

      • It does! I haven’t gotten to that part yet, I’m about halfway through “Start Here”.
        On the topic of books, I also bought “Counted Worthy”, it is really good so far.

          • Haha, I read it in one day, too, I stayed up till midnight to finish it!
            On a different note, how have things been going with the move? Still praying for you. 🙂

          • Moving… I wish I knew when I was going! My dad’s employer is being really slow getting back to him — I have absolutely no idea what’s going on. They told him they’re creating the position he’d be moving up into, but now we haven’t heard from them for a couple of weeks. 🙁 Thank you! How about you?

          • Ooh, I’ve been there! I hope they get back to him soon!
            Well, our house is going up on the market today! Yay!! 🙂 So as soon as that sells and we have some sort of living quarters set up in PA (i.e. shack, shed, bridge… jk! I prefer a house…) then we’ll move! 🙂 I’ve actually gotten excited about it!

  • WOW!! Awesome question Amanda! for me as a dancer who gets praised quite often at performances it’s hard to receive them cause then i get a prideful mindset. and think that i’m the best and everything. i struggle with this a lot because i struggle with having my heart and mind in the right place when i dance, and not having a prideful mindset. I think you just have to give the praise that you get to God and just give it all back to him as the author and perfector of your talent

  • As the pastor at my college church recently mentioned in a sermon, it is usually appropriate to simply say “thank you”; and when you are thanked, to simply say “you’re welcome.”

    As to an inward response, I think Alex and Brett may have cited Isaiah 26:12 in *Start Here*, and it’s worth noting: “LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.”

    Clearly there is a tension; we have to work, but God works through us. Verses like 1 Corinthians 15:10 make this clear. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, *I worked* harder than any of them, *though it was not I*, but the grace of God that is with me.”

    We should rejoice that the Lord is working through us, and tremble lest we think of ourselves more highly than we ought (instead of with sober judgment — Romans 12:3). It is good to know that he is at work, and that the good that he has begun in us he will carry to completion (Phil. 1:6)!

    • Hi Alex! Are you new here, or are you coming back after a break from the Reb, or do you not comment frequently? I don’t recognize your name… 🙂

      • Hi! While I’ve been following the Rebelution from near the beginning, I am probably not the target audience anymore (college freshman). I used to be somewhat active in blog comments, but not too much, and was never on the forums…

        • Okay 🙂 I always wonder…
          College freshmen can Do Hard Things, too! Not in the same way, I suppose, though… speaking of which, what advice would you give someone (me!) who’s heading off to college in a couple of years? Or who’s considering whether or not to go to college…

          • That’s a big question! First, I would recommend two books: Thriving at College by Alex Chediak and How to Stay Christian in College by J. Budziszewski.

            On the question of college or not, I think it’s really important to “count the cost” in terms of student debt. If you can go with little or no debt, then it’s probably a fine idea to go, if you’re a good fit for the school. If you’re going to end up with a lot of debt, and not-so-promising job prospects, then I’d think hard on that.

            But if you do want to go to college, I would recommend a few things in high school that (I think) made it more viable for me and would help almost anyone:

            1. Push yourself academically. I did AP Calculus BC, Chemistry, Physics C, English, Computer Science, and Statistics (and maybe something I’m forgetting) in high school. As a home schooled student, I taught myself the material for all of the exams, except for English and Chemistry, where I took online classes. I did my very best on the exams and got great scores. This helped me get college credit. At any school, especially elite, it probably helps admissions, and possibly academic scholarships that aren’t automatically awarded based off SAT scores, etc. Certainly AP exams aren’t right for everyone, but I felt like they were a big part of making my years in high school academically fruitful. I took one AP exam in my sophomore year, and the rest of them between junior and senior. At the same time, I don’t think it’s necessary to go overboard; I probably was pushing the limit on what’s useful (especially as an engineering major — taking much else wouldn’t have been too helpful, except to transfer as elective credit and for the sheer joy of the subject matter, which is important too).

            2. Plan to take the PSAT, and study for it. It counts in your junior year and scoring in the top 1% in your state can mean scholarship money. Some people claim it’s not like the SAT, but I thought it was very similar and got comparable scores. They’re not exactly the same, but multiplying your PSAT score by 10 gives you an idea of where your SAT scores should be. Likewise, getting and practicing from the SAT blue book will help with the PSAT, and dividing your score by 10 gives you an idea of where you’re at for the PSAT. You can look up the historical cutoff scores for becoming a National Merit Finalist based on your particular state.

            3. If you’re homeschooled, try to have an outside teacher or two to help substantiate what you’re doing. I took AP Chemistry online partly so that I could get a letter of recommendation from a math/science teacher. I did well in it and the teacher was happy to write one.

            4. Start researching scholarships now. (I have a blog series on winning scholarships.) Scholarships based on major, faith, school, location, etc. I do not expect to have any school debt because of scholarships and need-based financial aid, and that’s a huge blessing! But I spent hours every week, especially senior year of high school, applying to scholarships. Now I spend a lot less time, but I’m still trying to keep up with new ones.

            The AP classes can also help if you want to graduate in less than four years, which saves money (obviously). I came in with effectively a year of AP credits, and could do the electrical engineering program in three years, but decided to take my time and add a minor instead. That’s the benefit of the scholarships… The other cool thing about having the AP credit and jumping into upper-level classes is that you might be able to sell employers on the idea that you’re effectively a sophomore. I knew internships for freshmen were hard to find, but at the end of last year I had accepted a paid offer to work as a software engineering intern for this coming summer in a neighboring state, which was something I had hoped to do for a long time.

            And as a final word, I think a lot of people go to college by default who shouldn’t. Those who aren’t interested in working hard academically should definitely avoid it. But the flip side is that if you have already been working pretty hard in high school, the transition is not bad. I came in thinking it was going to be rough and would not actually say it’s been much harder than high school, at least academically. I’m sure it has been for many people, but I felt really well prepared.

            Hope this helps! Best to you as you seek to honor the Lord in high school and beyond. Remember that I’m just one data point; ask other college students, and especially graduates, for advice as well!

            P.S. I am a fan of Cal Newport’s books as well. You’ll need to use discernment, but there’s a lot of good advice. Interlibrary loans are great for getting books if your library doesn’t have them!

          • I’ve been prepping for the PSAT already; I took it this year and I’m 10 points beneath the cutoff for the NMS next year.

            There’s a lot of data in there, which is hard to respond to piece by piece, so I’ll just say – thank you!

            So dual-enrolling is something I should definitely do, then? I will have opportunities to do that next year 🙂 Do these classes take the place of AP?

            You’re really making me wonder about going to college – I’d thought of it as a no-brainer, but while I don’t have to work too hard to get straight A’s so far, I don’t really like school, and as a girl I don’t expect to use any education past getting married. So, I really don’t know what I’m doing yet… thankfully I have two years to get it figured out 🙂

            You sound like my older brother, FYI – you’re even both studying to become engineers! What type of engineer?

          • Good job on that; if you’re close now and keep studying and bringing it up, you can hopefully make it with a nice margin.

            I think if you can, dual-enrollment is probably a good idea. But see what others advise; I can’t possibly give good advice like that from a distance. I don’t think it needs to be overkill; I did one such course per year just to substantiate things (and they were all online in my case)… It might be worth a shot, for one class for one year, and you can see how you like it and whether it was worth it. If you need recommendations, Aubrey Heki’s section of AP English for PHC Prep was amazing.

            I really enjoy my school; it’s part of my vocation and I try to do my best at it. There are no easy answers about college; as a counterpoint, it’s worth noting that pragmatism is the only uniquely American philosophy. You do indeed have time to take in figuring it out, and hopefully willy consult older and wiser people, like your parents.

            Haha 🙂 I’m a computer engineer.

            Have a good rest of your Lord’s Day.

          • Thank you for devoting the time to answering my questions :)Okay, well my brother is a mechanical engineer. You and him are so similar!

  • Hmm….. I know I personally have often responded rather awkwardly to praise; not really knowing if just “Thank you” would suffice; especially when they go on and on, I just DON’T know what to say. But for typical things I would probably say “Thank you” and for other things I guess it wold kind of depend on what it was; but always give glory to God! Now that I think about it, this is something I really should do more often…..

  • So reading the comments, I just had something to add… some people “deflect” compliments by complimenting the person who just said they did a good job. Does anyone else find that awkward, or am I weird? Anyway, for me that makes it really hard to tell someone else they did a goood job.

    • Lol, yeah I find that awkward too. 😉

      One way that you can deflect compliments, though (and I do this sometimes) – is to deflect the compliment to the person that had an influence on you doing well. Now that was a really awkward sentence, but what I mean is that, say, when I get a compliment on my piano performance, I can say something like, “thanks, my piano teacher is really awesome.” In those sorts of situations. Or, when I get a “dinner tastes great,” I can say, “thanks, my little sister helped me with the salad.” Or in other situations, “thanks, God is good.”

      Doing this not only keeps things in perspective for me and reminds me to be humble, but also reminds me that it isn’t because of me that I am “so great;” it is thanks to others (ultimately God) that I have success. It also keeps me from getting all the credit for something that was a joint effort. 🙂

  • Gratefulness and being humble, kind of demonstrate the same Character Traits. I find it helps to acknowledge appreciation for those who have helped you to learn and achieve that goal you are being praised for. To deflect the praise to honouring those who have been put in your life by God to help you, helps reflect God’s blessings in your life and point to our Creator 🙂 But don’t forget that a job well done is deserving of praise and can be a good help to know you are going the right direction.

  • If I might refer to an article written by the great speaker/author/pastor John Piper. On this topic, he wrote 10 things he tried to do when praised by men. I have found these to be incredibly helpful for me, and perhaps also might be helpful to you.

    Note: I have paraphrased each of these ten items, and switched the
    arrangement of two, so if you want what Piper really had to say, check
    out his article in this link:

    1. Remember that only God is self-existent and we cannot live without Him

    2. Remember that we are by nature sinners deserving punishment

    3. Remember that our condition could only be remedied by Christ’s death & resurrection

    4. Read and memorize the Scriptures that speak of humility (James 4:6-10, Phillipians 4:13 for Pete’s sake!)

    5. See those Scriptures for what they really are…

    6. …And feel those Scriptures with a sense of meekness (thinking of yourself less and not less of yourself~C.S. Lewis)

    7. Try to rebuke desires of praise and look to Jesus Christ for true perfection

    8. Receive criticism and praise with an open mind in order to gain wisdom

    9. Turn to older writers (John Calvin, John Owen, Jonathon Edwards, and George Whitfield to name a few) who were able to express their humility in their own deeds and joy in God in ways we sometimes cannot do today.Find joy in God’s praise and worship more than the praise of men

    10. Find joy in God’s praise and worship more than the praise of men

    In Hopeful Humility,


  • I know this is basically what everyone else already said, but accept compliments with a “thank you” and a grin! Most people complimenting you sincerely want you to know that your outfit looks cute, or you did an amazing job speaking/organizing/etc. And don’t just accept the compliments, give some of your own out as well!

    Collect the praise and give it to God, then collect some of the love back from Him and spread it to others. It’s one big cycle, like a bee carrying pollen to different flowers and getting the nectar in return. :))

  • You have to remember that it is God who gave you your talents and all the praise given to you must be then given back to Him. I know that can be super hard but thats our purpose. To quote the “Westminster Shorter Catechism” Q1: What is man’s primary purpose? A: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Also, don’t fall into the trap of making your modesty something to be glorified. A good response would just be a simple “Thank you! To God be the glory!” or something like that.

  • I always like to think of Max Lucado’s series on the Wemicks. How would you feel if you made billions of small, wooden people, and gave them their talents and fashioned them with a purpose, only to be rejected and forgotten by the very people you created? God created us, and really, any praise that we receive rightly goes to God. He’s the only possible being who truly deserves all the glory and praise! Without Him, we are nothing.

    • I think, personally, I’ve begun to respond to compliments by saying “praise God” as well as thank you–when it’s appropriate, that is! If someone compliments my outfit, I’m not going to say “praise God”! XD But, like you said, if someone compliments my talent or character, it’s a good thing to say. 🙂 Just remember to accept the compliment, even as you give the glory to God! It’s important to give Him the glory for our gifts, but remember the people giving you the compliment genuinely want to uplift and encourage you; you can bless them by thanking them for the time they took to do so!

      • Lol…praise God, He helped me pick this outfit in the dark this morning! And helped me tame the frizz in my hair! And gave me makeup suggestions! And made sure my socks matched!

      • Thank you for your insight. This kind of situation is often hard to respond to in a way that gives God glory without being like, when someone compliments your outfit, “praise God!” Ultimately yes, though.

        • I’m glad it was helpful to you, Elizabeth! And I would add that, as some others have said, it’s very much about your attitude. If your desire is to give glory to God when you’re complimented, I do believe He will show you what to say when the time comes. 🙂 God bless!

    • I love your screen name!
      Just had to say that…
      *sees that Sam Wegner already said that* @samwegner:disqus, you really have to stop stealing my ideas!

    • I haven’t figured that out myself, either… Whenever I try and deflect compliments I end up getting really awkward.

  • I have a little twist on this question: I have a few friends who compliment me often, but in such a way as to put themselves down–in effect, ‘you’re so much more awesome.’ They rock in so many ways, but I can’t figure out how to tell them so in that situation. How can I gracefully accept the compliment without swallowing the false implication that I’m somehow better than they are? A simple thank you doesn’t feel quite right. Thoughts?

    • You could reply with something like: “IKR!” 😂 But on a more serious note, you could say something to the effect of “Well, God has given me all that I have and am, so technically, HE’S so much more awesome.” 🙂 But idk. That is a tough situation. I kinda know how you feel. I hate it when people compliment me in such a way as to put themselves down. Kinda needlessly puts you up on a pedestal in their minds. :/ It’s one thing when you think you’re better. It’s a whole different thing when someone else thinks you’re better.

      • I would add that it’s okay if someone thinks you’re better at certain things. In all areas, we are better than some people and not as good as others. That’s life. But if they take the fact that you’re better at certain things and use it to tear themselves down…well, that’s sad. :/
        Great thoughts, btw. =)

        • Yes you’re right! I do realize that some people are more talented in different areas. That’s what makes life great! 🙂 For every field of talent, there are thousands of people!

    • Esther, I have struggled with this at times as well. I think it is a tough situation… Something my dad always tells me is that when people do this most likely they are actually fishing for compliments and for someone to tell them that they shouldn’t say those things and they are super good at such and such, etc. The thing is, often they don’t need a complement – what they need to be shown is that they are truly loved and cared for no matter what they do or don’t do. Depending on the situation my Dad has recommended either being really direct with the person and letting them know that it makes you uncomfortable when they do this and that when they do this it makes you think they must be feeling insecure. Then let them know that you will be there for them, but more than that God is always right there and He does not care if they are good or bad at such and such – He just wants their heart and love and He will guide them because He has a purpose for their life.

      Evidently in many situations this might not go over very well, so my dad’s other option is to just move on quickly. If the person learns that they cannot fish for complements from you (and ultimately put you down through guilt even though their words may be kind) They may stop in time, also making sure that you give them meaningful complements whenever they are not fishing for them can be helpful as well.

      I know that people who give complements while putting themselves down may not even be fishing for complements on purpose but just exemplifying their insecurity, which may allow you to have a good heart to heart with them about it like my dad’s “first option”, If it seems to be on purpose than I guess depending on the situation you might want to stick to the second option.

      I hope this helps and makes sense – maybe this isn’t what is going on in your friendships, but I know my dad’s advise has been very helpful in my life when my friends have done this. It can be so frustrating and make you feel so guilty when friends put themselves down while exalting you, so I was grateful when after a heart to heart or a new approach to their complements they stopped. Yay!

        • No worries, it was helpful!
          Different friends do it for different reasons, I think, some insecurity and some fishing for compliments.

        • Well put and insightful! Wow, I sure wish I could write comments THIS good, you’re so much better at it than me…
          haha JUST KIDDING! 🙂 In all seriousness, I really like your dad’s advice. Personally, I know I have been one of those people who fished for compliments while feeling insecure. I had to realize that it’s really just pride; being liked by other people is nice, but not the ultimate goal.

  • I run into this a lot, I sing both contemporary and classically. And my friends are always like, “Anna, I want to sing like you!” or “How did you get so good?” And I know that it wasn’t anything I did, or anything I chose to become good at, it’s all God. God makes us who we are and he gives us our giftings and talents. If it were up to me I would much rather be an artist and be able to paint like my brothers. But God had other plans! 🙂 Anytime someone praises what I do, I turn back and give the praise to God. I know that I would be nothing without Christ, so it is only fair for me to stay humble because there isn’t even any reason for me to take all the credit. It’s all God shining through us, everyday. 🙂

    • Another singer!!!!!!!!! And you sing classical!!!!!!!!!! *happy dance* What sort of places do you sing at? I don’t have many places… But I’m singing at my homeschool group’s talent show tomorrow 🙂

      • Cool! I enjoy singing as well! I’m going to start singing in a quarter here shortly. Great input btw, Anna!

      • We have a school near where I live that is a music school so I go there once a week for violin and voice lessons. I also do recitals there as well. My family used to travel to churches and nursing homes where we would sing, but we stopped doing that (which I was happy about at first, but now I miss singing at different places! lol!) I also sing at my church, and at youth group. I am starting to write worship music so I would love to go to places outside of my home church and start performing at different Christian venues. 🙂 It’s so cool that you are a singer, too! do you sing classical?

        • Well… Some classical. I haven’t really had much opportunity to learn classical, aside from what my sister brings home from college (she’s a classical singer). Basically I sing whatever I hear on the radio/wherever else. But I always sing with classical techniques! I think that’s what really matters…
          Is your whole family “musical”?

          • That’s cool! I have picked up some musical traits from my older brother, he is a music major at college.
            Yes, my whole family is “musical” 🙂 I have five older siblings so people always said we were the Partridge family, or the Von Trapp Family singers, just because we were a big family that sang! haha!

          • Haha! Well, among the kids in my family most of us are musical, meaning that we love music. We never really had the instruments to learn more than piano and singing, so the more music-loving among us attacked those with gusto!

    • I learned everything I know from my sister, so that’s what I tell people…
      Quick question: when everyone was welcoming you, was it overwhelming, fun, or something else? Me and a couple of other people were theorizing that we might have scared away some other people, who received similar welcomes. What was it like for you?

  • For me Praise should be something like an encouragement. To keep up the good work! When I was little I got a lot of Praise because I was a kid and it is supposed to encourage good habits but now there isn’t so much Praise because I’m at the age where you are just expected to get it. And my parents are not trying to be rude in any way by not giving as much Praise but it’s helping me in a way to mature more and become a better human being for my future life. So when I do get Praise from them it feels really good! Much more pleasing to me because I just don’t receive comments like that! So you should try and consider Praise as an encouragement in my opinion and just make sure you put your whole heart in it every time so you don’t feel guilty for just getting the Praise with no real thing to be so proud of.

  • Especially when my brother and I were younger, whenever we were in a situation that we were receiving a lot of praise from other people, as we were driving away, my Mom would sing this line from a hymn
    “I lay my trophies at His feet and crown Him Lord of all!”
    I won a music award a few months ago, and was suddenly receiving many congratulations, praise, and media attention. When I was alone, I would often sing the 3rd verse of How Deep the Father’s Love for us
    “I will not boast in anything. No gifts, no power, no wisdom. But I will boast in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection. Why should I gain from his reward? I cannot give and answer. But this I know with all my heart: His wounds have paid my ransom.”
    So for me, worship in song is a good way to keep from being prideful.
    (praise itself is not inherently wrong. its all in how we respond and when we give it)

  • To not brag, but to enjoy the moment. God designed you to feel happiness, not to boast. So you should humbly take the praise, not shout it to the streets.

  • Hey guys, this is going to be off topic, but I just have to ask. My youth group is will be doing a Q & A next Sunday. The topic of it is, ” Am I Worldly?” I don’t have any questions at the moment, but I am wondering if any of you guys have any?

  • I just experienced this today. One of the teachers at my school came in my math class and started talking about how great I always am when it comes to doing anything for school. I didn’t know what what to say, so I just said a simple thank you. Does anyone else have any advice for what I could say next time?

  • Just say “thank you”… you can also take their praise and direct it toward GOD in some way… it’s hard for me to think about how well I did something when thinking about what HE has done!

  • I think that a humble “thank you” is appropriate and you can point to someone who has helped you do what you did such as God, parent teacher etc.

  • say thanks and inside think about how God gave you that talent or gift and don’t take pride in yourself

  • I wish I knew how to respond to praise. Not to sound braggy or anything, but I have a pretty nice singing voice. When I sit behind people in church, they often compliment me on it after the service. I always just smile and say thanks, but I don’t really know what to say. It’s not like I’ve spent a lot of time on it, I just have a gift. And it feels weird to say so sometimes. (I’ve also been struggling with pride lately, and compliments don’t help!)

    • I too have a nice singing voice (and training from my sister, who’s a classical singer) so people tell me all the time that I have a nice voice. I normally just say “thank you,” and sometimes I say that my sister taught me. Kinda deflecting the compliment to someone else. But it sounds like that wouldn’t work very well for you.
      I’m glad you found us over here! 😀

  • Sometimes I say “Thank you”. “You’re too kind, so sweet…”, God is good” “What a blessing you are for saying so…”. But it is an awkward thing sometimes. I think Thank you is short, sweet, simple and if they go further with it and want to know more about how you got so talented then you can say it’s a gift from the good Lord. I like it much better when people say “Thank you for singing” or “I enjoy you voice”.. because then I can say “I’m glad to sing,” or “I enjoyed singing too.” 🙂

  • When we receive praise, it really helps to POP the praise.
    POP is an acronym for Pass On Praise. If we pass on the praise to someone else and give them the credit for it it makes it a lot less awkward.
    For example: “Wow I love your outfit!”
    “Thanks! My aunt got it for me.” Or
    “You’re really good at such-and-such.”
    Then credit it to The person who taught you or something like that.

    I hope that makes sense and helps!

rebelling against low expectations

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