When I first started leading worship at church, I discovered people loved complimenting me. Being 17, I didn’t really know how to take that much praise. So I did what I thought was the “humble” thing, and I didn’t really accept their compliments. I thought it was humility on my part, but it was really just insecurity.
These are three “humble Christian” responses we need to stop saying when we receive compliments. I said them, and I’m still tempted to say them. But they do nothing for me or the people who have to hear them.
“It’s no big deal.”
When someone chooses to compliment you, it’s like they’re offering you a gift. Because they feel like they’ve experienced something worth praising, they want to offer you the gift of their kind words.
But responding with “it’s no big deal” is like rejecting their gift. Receiving the gift might not be a big deal to you, but giving the gift is a big deal to the giver. Don’t short-circuit what they’re trying to do. Instead, offer a simple “thank you” back. It’s the polite thing to do. And it’s entirely humble if you let it be.
“But it isn’t as good as it could have been.”
The second most common thing I see when someone tries to “humble-side-step” a compliment is by drawing attention to flaws. Yes, I sang that song well, but I played the wrong chord during the bridge. That’s unrelated and doesn’t even seem humble to the hearer.
Think of it like this: You congratulate the Apple team on the new iPhone release. Then they respond, “Yeah, but our second floor bathroom is out of order. Wish we could have had that fixed when we released.”
It’s so unrelated. It’s just an insecure person trying to avoid having to think something good about themselves. Yet it happens all the time.
“It was all God.”
And finally, the mother of all Christian responses: It was all God. I always hear singers say this. When I do, I’m tempted to say, “Wow, I didn’t realize God’s voice sounded so much like yours.”
I get that God gave the singer the voice. But the singer still had to practice. The singer still had to drink plenty of water. The singer still had to stand up in front of a crowd of people and risk looking like a fool.
It’s okay to say “thank you” when people compliment you. Your acceptance of the compliment doesn’t mean that it’s going to your head.
Humility is not a response. It’s a heart attitude. And the attitude is about acknowledging the reality of the situation—what you are good or aren’t good at—and realizing it doesn’t make you any better or worse than someone else. Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.
So those are the falsely “humble” responses, I’ve heard in response to compliments. What did I miss? What are you tempted to say to sidestep compliments when they come?