And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” Genesis 41:15-16
When Pharaoh told Joseph that he knew of his ability to interpret dreams, Joseph didn’t downplay it and say that he wasn’t worthy of such attention. Instead, He put God at the center of his answer.
False modesty plagues us. So does insecurity. These appear to be God-honoring when, in fact, they rob God of the glory due Him. One of the biggest pitfalls of any platform person is succumbing to pride. Standing ovations, fan letters, and whispers of your name as you pass a group, all swell your sense of worth. In my experience, God gives believers with high visibility thorns in the flesh to counteract the temptation. He minimizes the risk of ministries being ruined by inflated egos.
Despite that, compliments are a part of life, and they can be very hard to know how to handle.
“You’re such a great teacher.”
“You hear the Lord and lead with great faith.”
“No one can organize an event quite like you!”
To simply say, ‘thank you’ can appear to mean, “I agree with you. I am this great.” Shouldn’t I shun praise? If I were humble, shouldn’t I tell others that their observations about me are inflated or untrue? The problem is that when I do that, I miss the opportunity to tell them how great God is. When I say, “It’s not me; it’s God,” that’s not true. I am part of the equation, half of the collaboration. I embraced the gift, developed it and practiced using it, and then dedicated it to the glory of God. Spiritual gifting is God working in and through me.
So, what is a good alternative? Let’s say that you teach a small group. It is being blessed and people are growing. One night after the meeting ends, someone comes to you and says, “You are such an anointed facilitator. I’ve never understood this much about Jesus before.” You can answer like this. “I’m so encouraged to hear you say this. Thank you. Please pray for me that I will always depend on Jesus as I teach.”
No matter where we excel, people should know that ‘we know’ the gift came from God. The grace to do it well is because of His faithfulness.
One final thing. You and I should be aware where we are gifted. If we fail to know, how can we be effective? If someone asked you to name three ways God has gifted you, and three things you do well, would it be wrong to answer with certainty, with no apology? Yes. You will be humble when you give God the glory for it.
I am confident today because of Your anointing. I’ve lived without it and there was no spiritual power. You are at the center of all I am, and I am nothing without you. Amen