rebelling against low expectations

How do you handle the side effects of praise?


ANONYMOUS WRITES: Since I joined TheRebelution, God has given me a love for people who are going through hard stuff. I talk to them, pray with them, love them. All of this is great, and this has become a “hard thing” that I do whenever I can.

But recently it’s brought a challenge of its own: people say how I’m so nice, and they wish they were like me. I’ve started to need to hear how nice I am, how much I’m appreciated.

I want to do the hard things without caring if people praise me, but right now I’m starting to do hard things to get praised. How can I stop caring about praise, and start caring about people again?

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  • Prayer! Prayer, itself, is an act of dependence on God. I’ve found that when people praise you for doing hard things, the best thing to do is pray and thank God for the gifts He’s given you to do the hard things.

  • That is really hard. Usually I just try to say “well, you need to see___” But sometimes it is really hard to figure out what to say.

  • Dude, I’m with you! Throughout the majority of last year, that was the predominant struggle of my life: getting my emotional self worth from what people thought of me. In other words, my feelings often reflected other’s feelings about me. Still it’s a battle. However when I began to realize that my self worth was found in Jesus it became easier.

    When I realized how important this is, my attitude began to change and I began to crave acceptance of others less and less and stared to crave the will of God more and more. That gives me greater joy than the short term praise of my peers. 🙂 And that’s worth fighting for.

  • I’ve struggled with this too! At a youth camp, I got in the habit of busing tables after every meal, which was great. But then, as everyone started noticing and commenting on how “servant hearted” I was, it became a struggle not to “perform” instead of just serving.

    One thing I’ve found to help this is to serve your family and other people in ways that they will never notice. It’s humbling, takes up your time and effort–and no one but God sees. And pray, of course! 🙂

    Hope that helps! 🙂 🙂

    • yeah it is. If we are being honest I love serving other people, but I have a hard time doing so at home. But serving should start at home! So, i guess I have some work to do.

    • Disqus really does need a “double upvote” feature that you can only do once per thread. So far, I would give it to you. 😉

  • I would say by going back to the Scriptures and literally asking God to humble you and He will. If you ask Him whole heartily He will help you through it and He will take you back to the place you started. God bless!!

  • Hey Anonymous!! Thanks for your humility in submitting your question! That right there, humbly admitting to and recognizing this in your life, is a great start on the right path!!! =) I haven’t read all the comments yet, so forgive me if I repeat something… First, I want to say that I struggle with this a lot too!! You’re FAR from being the only one! I always want people to see and applaud my good, but don’t want them to see the bad… =P
    As for things I have done to help (and am STILL doing!) is first of all to pray and ask the Lord for help! When we are struggling with something, we truly CAN’T fix the problem on our own!!! God is the only one who can do that work in our hearts!
    Also doing things in secret is a great way to help…! It could be something small: making your brother’s bed in the morning.. =) But doing something and NOT telling someone really helps strengthen out humility.!
    Also, I don’t know if you;re like me, but sometimes it’s not enough for me if just my family knows something good I’ve done! Sometimes I want OTHER people to know too… So I find myself sometimes, in a subtle way where no one can really tell my motive bu myself (and GOd), bragging about myself in hope of seeking praise! I’ve tried to get better about that, and one thing I’ve found is helpful is when I’m tempted to try to seek after praise, I instead try to humble myself and admit a struggle or ask for prayer for one of my weaknesses!
    When people complement me, I try to do something similar (at least when I’m feeling prideful about it..accepting complements isn’t wrong, we just have to make sure our hearts are right!). I try to, again, admit to not being eveything they say or revert the complement to someone else!
    For example, I find I can be particularly prideful and seek complements when I’m singing or cooking (God’s given me a couple humbling experiences in each to help me with my pride… 😉 ). So, if I make dinner for company and they complement my cooking, I might say, “Well thanks, but I couldn’t have done it without my mom’s training! She’s the one who taught me how to cook this!” or in singing, “Thank you. I’m so thankful for my parents, friends, and grandpa who have helped to strengthen me in my singing!” Or if someone says, “Wow…YOu are just SO nice!!!” I can say, “Well, thank you, but I promise you I’m not always nice!! I often struggle with being very rude to my family….And any ‘niceness’ you see comes from the Lord.”
    See what I mean?? Reverting the complement to someone else, or admitting a struggle helps us grow in humility…..It is often SO hard to get those words out of my mouth!! I know, for me, I want to look perfect! I want people to see my good…so when I feel that way, I cringe and say those things, whether I feel like it or not! And I pray in the moment and ask God to help me not to let that complement go to my head!
    The only thing with what I;ve been saying though, is taht after a while, it’s easy to become prideful in our humility! ;P What I mean is, instead of truly feeling humble, I admit something or revert a complement in hopes that I will “impress” someone with my humility or gain more praise from my humility..and that’s just as wrong; and not true humilty!!
    With ALL that said, I always, again, end up coming back to spending time talking to God (praying) and reading scriptures on the subject…! Becuase even in my attmpts at humility, as I said, I often am just as prideful!! So, while I pray these things help you, ultimately, only GOD can help you!!!! I hope this helps!!!

  • I’d say that simply submitting that question was a hard thing. To beat a recurring drum: I struggle with it too, welcome to the bunch! Good or bad company, you’re with us now… How I deal with it is like someone said, find a way of anonymously serving in a way nobody but you and God see. It won’t take long to humble you (it didn’t me!), training yourself to do it with a cheerful attitude will take a while. But when you come out of that phase, praise won’t affect you in the same way… I personally found it a bit akward when after I did something (after training myself) people thanked me for it/said good job. Interesting turn of affairs. I hope this helps some!

  • I’m with you. This is an ongoing struggle for me too. Thank you for being so humble and willing to share:) I’ve realized however that although this problem stems from our pridefulness, the root of our pridefulness is fear. I know that for me personally, I was trying to find fulfillment in other people’s comments about my “good works.” I was doing that because I was fearful that the love that God has for me wasn’t enough. So out of that fear, I decided to find my own fulfillment, instead of seeking Him. So, Anonymous: Seek Him. It’s no easy thing, I know. It’s certainly not wrong to seek encouragement, but don’t seek praise for your own good deeds. Rather it is the Lord who is good and is working good through you. Psalm 16:2 “Apart from you, O Lord, I have no good thing. I’m praying for you as you seek Him!

  • I just had a situation like this sort of. I am working with a teacher who has more experience than I do. (She has taught for at least 1 year, been through college, is a bit older) And I screwed up and she said something that hurt me. (Especially because I am so used to being told what a good job I do.) And then I screwed up later in the day. Now there were reasons for both (or maybe excuses, but I think they were legitimate reasons!) and I didn’t even get to explain. I was really hurt and couldn’t stop thinking about it. But a thought popped into my mind that we shouldn’t be worried about praise from man, because we ultimately serve God. I still felt upset, but it was a little better and I prayed over the situation. Then I felt like I should call her (we were done for the day) and apologize and explain what happen. I felt so much better and she understood and actually apologized to me, because she was having a bad day! So even though things are better, I am trying to keep in mind to not love human praise more than praise from God. Because something like this shouldn’t hurt me like that.

  • Like everyone else has already said, pray!
    Be giving the glory to God at all times but in true praise and humility. Sometimes I want to pray for someone but I realize my intention is more for myself than the other person, so instead I stay where I am and pray from a distance, no one knows except God and that’s the point, and it keeps me humble, it also shows if I care about the other person enough to do that. Hope this helps some.

  • I wish I knew a magic answer for ya, but I don’t. But this verse has greatly helped me:

    “3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” -Philipians 2:3″

    That’s from the ESV which is my favorite translation. But just this once, I almost like the NLT better, ‘cuz it’s so straightforward and blunt:

    “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”

    Hope this helps!

    His slave,

    Josh =)

  • Good question. Even though we are doing good works, continuous praise not directed towards The Lord can be very appealing to the flesh. It is a very rare man or woman who is able to be humble in all situations. I do not handle compliments well. I was told by someone that the best to do is just say thank you and move on. It is alright for people to compliment you, but you always need to remember that only through Him is anything done that is good in our lives. I constantly remind myself that He is the very breath that I breathe and that I am totally dependent on Him for all. Try and stay repentant before The Lord with an honest heart and He will convict you and teach you of humility.

    Keep up the good works for The Lord.

    Sincerely in Him,

  • First of all, it is really great that you recognized this. A lot of times, people don’t want to change it.

    I love to sing a lot at my church. Every time after I do, I always get a lot of compliments. When I first started singing when I was younger, my dad always told me not to take the compliments to my head. Accept them gracefully, but always give the credit to God. Because He gave my my voice, and everything that I do is for Him.

    This could be for you too! God gave you a kind, helping spirit. So when someone compliments you on that, say thank you. But whether it is out loud or just to yourself, always give the credit to God. He made you the way you are. You have nothing to do with that. If you keep this in mind every time someone compliments you, then your overall focus will not be on yourself, but on God.

    Hope this helps!

  • Hi Anonymous,

    I don’t have much to say since I have the same problem sometimes.

    I would check out people’s answers to a similar discussion question from March

    And also, here’s a quote from Corrie ten Boom: “When people come up and give me a compliment–‘Corrie, that was a good talk,’ or ‘Corrie, you were so brave,’ I take each remark as if it were a flower. At the end of each day I lift up the bouquet of flowers I have gathered throughout the day and say, ‘Here you are, Lord, it is all Yours.'”

    Sorry, that’s all I’ve got for the moment.

  • For years now, every time people give or show praises to me I’d use a scripted response, “Glory to God”. Sooner you’ll hear them answer you back “Amen!”

  • I’m with ya on this one. It’s tough, huh? One of the things i’ve found to be helpful right away is simply answering back, “Praise God” when someone compliments me. It helps keep my attitude God focused.

    In the long run though, i often find myself in need of an attitude check (completely rethinking intentions), where prayer is a pretty awesome tool. Pride is something we all struggle with. There’s a whole lot in the Bible about it too 😉

    I’m in the same boat, sooooo… not sure how helpful this was, but, meh 🙂

    God bless!

    • This has been really helpful. Focusing on me is such a mindset problem and turning it all back to the Lord is such a simple way to start working on it!

  • I think everybody else pretty much nailed it. I like the idea of serving in ways nobody will see. And I think saying things like “Oh but so-and-so did more” or “Oh its nothing” can help you stay focused, but I know sometimes when I do that I start getting prideful about how “humble” I am so be careful. Mostly, pray and stay in the Word. Hope this helps!

  • 1 Corinthians 10:23,”All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up”, verse 31,33,”So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God….just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Paul is saying we should do all things to build others up and bring glory to God. Jesus did many miracles but did everything in humility to glorify the Father, never seeking His own glory. We’re to be imitators of that when we do anything, not seeking our own glory but to glorify God and to build others up who we’re serving, because really, if we do things for others with our own selfish intentions in mind, are we really doing those people a favor? We’re to be looking to their advantage to help them, not us. Just a few thoughts I had that I hope helps.;)

  • The best advice I can give is to stop being focused on you. I get a lot of compliments because my dad is pretty well known in our area, so I’m always used to hearing how pretty and sweet and godly I am. (its all baloney, by the way) but if I’m focused on how “awesome” I am, I believe it and eventually need it. However, when I walk into a situation with an attitude of how can I bless others and show God’s awesomeness to them, me just fades away. So the best trick is to get out of you and into the world. That is true confidence and beauty.
    Once I can understand that it isn’t me that’s amazing, I can truly focus on God. So here’s a challenge: when someone compliments you next time, try deflecting the praise to God or someone else. For example: “You look so gorgeous in that shirt” your reply, “Thanks, my sister helped me pick it out. She’s really good at that” Or “You have such a gift of encouragement.” Reply, “Thank you. Its really something God has been helping me to understand recently.” Hope this helps!! 🙂

  • Usually, if someone compliments me about something, then I try to immediately give God the glory by saying something like, “Well, praise the Lord!” This helps to shift the focus from me to Whom it belongs, and it guards against the evil of taking God’s glory for myself. And it reminds that, without Him, I = nothing. Works for me =v)

  • Intentionally keep your focus on God. Pray. And hide God’s Word in your heart. Pretty much what others are saying!! 😉

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →