1.  What Not To Say After A Compliment

       Anyone to whom God has given the grace-gift of teaching will receive his or her share of verbal affirmations.  I’ve had folks praise me for the clarity of truths I convey, for my passion, and my emphasis on application.  Yet for a long time, due to a performance-orientation and personal insecurity, I responded to sincere compliments in a self-centered manner, in a way that failed to dignify the other person who benefited from my teaching.
     I’d say “Thank you, but…”  Then I’d issue an apology for a three-second lapse in concentration during the sermon, or for an inability to remember every word of a verse I employed as a cross-reference, or for one ambiguous question I posed in an interactive setting.  I resorted to self-recrimination over the slightest imperfection in my presentation, even when the remainder of the sermon or class was effective and massaged the hearts of learners.
     I put the spotlight on myself, shifting it away from the person who was talking to me. I could have explained the doctrines of redemption and justification in detail, but my perfectionism and self-absorption while receiving a compliment showed that I failed to grasp the implications of my position in Christ.  What I knew cognitively about my identity in Christ had not settled into my affective domain of learning.

2. What To Say After A Compliment
       Now I don’t add a “but” to my “Thank you.”  Especially when I sense that the compliment is sincere, I strive to put the focus on the person expressing appreciation, and on the God whose Word had penetrated his or her mind and heart.  Here are typical replies:
     *I’m glad you were open to what God’s Spirit had for you today.”
    *I appreciate your attentiveness to God’s Word.  I sense that you have a teachable spirit.”
    *I’m overjoyed that God spoke personally to you today. Thanks for letting me know.”
     If I am aware of a minor gaffe in my presentation, I don’t mention it.  (How would you feel if you were expressing appreciation to a teacher or preacher, and he kept shifting the focus to areas in which he could have done better?)
     When you receive a compliment, remember that the occasion isn’t about you.  It’s about the God whose Word has efficacy, and about the person who was open to receiving that Word.

Terry’s book Serve Strong:  Biblical Encouragement To Sustain God’s Servants, has a chapter on the implications of redemption for Christian leaders and teachers. The chapter title is “Source of Your Significance.” Here’s a link to the book’s page on Amazon: