Why do you think we are wired to desire praise from others? My theory is that it is part of our being created in the image of God. Since God wants to be praised for WHO God is, then it makes sense that humans should want to receive appreciation for WHO we are–not just for what we DO. While humility should be our goal, genuine praise can empower us by recognizing our unique contribution to a situation or group and cause us to use our personalities, gifts, and talents in even greater ways.
The power of praising God
We know that praising God is powerful! Many of the psalms of David illustrate how the process of starting out fearful or angry can end up strong, confident, and joyful if we take our focus off ourselves or our situation and shift our gaze toward the God of the universe. A wonderful thing happens in this process: the more we voice our praises to God, the closer we feel to God. Also, the more room we give the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds, the more we will be able to release those negative feelings and emotions.
Praise is different from gratitude. It is so easy to thank God for our blessings. We can rattle those off without even thinking. Praise is not a “thank you.” Praise is an acknowledgement of WHO God is: the Almighty, our Savior, our Heavenly Parent, our Shepherd, our Great Physician, our Creator, and our Sustainer (you can add to the list).
Praising God is an act that reminds you WHO you are talking to. It establishes your relationship to God and helps you remember that you are the created one. Focusing on praise can be difficult because it is so much easier to slip into thanking God for what God has done. Bring yourself back to praise by filling in this blank, “God, You are My _______________.”
When did praise and worship music begin?
Have you ever considered the origins of the way we praise God? Have you thought about the fact that praising God with music had to start somewhere by someone? Did you know it was Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, who was the first person named in the Bible who led others to praise God with music? (See Exodus 15.) Interestingly, Miriam is also the only woman in the Bible whose life is portrayed from childhood to death. An indication of how well she was remembered as a strong and respected leader of the Israelites was how the prophet Micah wrote 500 years after her death about her co-leadership role alongside her brothers Aaron and Moses. And the fact that we are still talking about her in the 21st century is evidence of the legacy she left behind. Oh, that our leadership legacies could be so memorable!
Empowering people with praise
Business gurus of our day have discovered that people can be much more productive if they focus on their strengths instead of their weaknesses. (See the book SrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.) I like this approach. I know it works in my own life. When I am doing what I do best, I work harder, enjoy it more, and the time flies. I definitely get more done and feel more fulfilled when I am in my element.
I learned years ago to keep a “rose file” where you store those memories and notes of encouragement or gratitude. Then, when you’re having “one of those days,” you can pull them out to be reminded that you have brought value to others in the past and it will happen again. We all have “those” days! (Even Miriam had “one of those days” in Numbers 12.)
So, how can we praise others in such a way that they will feel empowered to function more in their strengths? Remember, we are striving to point out details about their unique qualities more than thanking them for a task. Here are 3 principles for empowering people with praise:
- Notice the positive details of their personalities. Acknowledge the joy their laughter brings. Mention the encouragement produced by their listening skills. Use them as an example of bringing organization or harmony to your group. Give them credit for their curiosity by repeating aloud a point they made or a question they asked.
- Recognize their specific strengths by matching them to roles that will use those strengths. Brag on their friendliness and ask them to help welcome newcomers. Acknowledge their attention to detail and ask them to proofread your report. Tell them their ability to see the potential in plans or people could be helpful in forming new teams or planning a new project.
- Ask them when/how they realized they had a particular interest/ability in ______. This will help them talk about themselves and will give you a chance to learn more about them so you can go back and apply Principle 1.
As with most things in life, these principles really boil down to relationships. How much effort are you investing in others? Are you taking the time–as a leader–to really get to know WHO is serving and working alongside you? Knowing their strengths and making sure they are functioning in those strengths will make your organization much more productive and more joy-filled.
How do your prayers praise God?
Taking time in your prayers to acknowledge WHO God is reminds you who you are not (and that is humbling!) Praising God’s omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence keeps things in perspective. I will close this week’s blog by quoting some ways other women have praised God through the centuries:
“Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted” (spoken by Miriam, Exodus 15:21).
“There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God” (prayed by Hannah, 1 Samuel 2:2).
“My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (spoken by Mary, the mother of Jesus, Luke 1:47).
“Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (spoken by Martha of Bethany as the first public messianic confession allowed by Jesus, John 11:27).
Join the conversation below by adding to the Comments section . . .
How has someone’s praise empowered you?