A retired businessman once told me how damaging negative comments could be to a committee evaluating people for different levels of employment. He said the first evaluation usually proved to be the most important. If the speaker contributed even a few words of praise about the person being considered, the other committee members would often also make positive observations. On the other hand, if the first comment was critical, those that followed would generally be the same.
Consider the losses in life when praise is missing from personal relationships.
A wife keeps her house in order for years and hears few words of praise and recognition for her efforts. Her husband seldom takes her in his arms to whisper words of love and appreciation, then wonders why she’s unhappy or so often depressed.
A husband and father labors hard to provide for his family. Finally, after life is past, people gather at his funeral to talk about how faithful he had been. Some of these kind comments, made in time, could have built his confidence and recharged his lagging vitality. A few words of praise might have even extended his life.
A family works faithfully in their church, serving on the board or various committees, singing in the choir or using their talents in other areas. Then one day they are gone, having decided to try another church.
Diagnosis? Discouragement! They concluded no one cared.
While it’s true that all service for the Lord should be its own reward, we’re all human enough to appreciate encouraging words from others.
Praising God should be the highest priority in life.
The Psalmist declared, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).
When we’re occupied with praising God, we’ll have no interest in putting down others. C.H. Spurgeon, the still highly regarded nineteenth century English minister and writer, said we ought to praise God more and blame neighbors less. These practices naturally follow each other: as we give ourselves to thoughts and words of praise, we’ll be less likely to blame others for our difficulties.
David’s resolution to praise God continually is the Old Testament verbalizing of Paul’s call to fill our minds with things that produce praise (Philippians 4:8).
Praise is the voice of thanksgiving, going beyond just appreciation of material things to adoration of the Lord, the giver, and a thankful heart will keep an otherwise critical tongue under control.
A.W. Tozer, the noted author of numerous worship classics wrote: “Now as a cure for the sour faultfinding attitude, I recommend the cultivation of the habit of thankfulness. Thanksgiving has great curative power. The heart that is constantly overflowing with gratitude will be safe from those attacks of resentfulness and gloom that bother so many religious persons. A thankful heart cannot be cynical.”
In praising God, we brighten every day. And in praising people, we help weary ones along their way.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.