A person finds joy in giving an apt reply – and how good is a timely word!

Proverbs 15:23

Almost every highly capable servant leader I know does this one thing to diminish their people’s service:

They brush off compliments.

They do this out of humility. But the impact they create is negative.

What happens when you brush off a compliment?

It’s hard to accept praise. I know I struggle with it. Not brushing off a compliment feels ego-driven. I know that everything good I do is by the grace of God and through the non-stop support of my team. It feels awkward to be congratulated for victories/accomplishments/attributes that I never would have developed on my own.

But when I – when any of us – downplay a compliment, the person giving that compliment is kept from serving. Genuine praise is service.

You know what happens when people are kept from offering their service. They feel disheartened. Their energy dips. What they have to give seems a little less valuable and desirable. Their perspective and intuition feel discounted.

You don’t want to create these negative effects in your workplace. When you, as a leader, brush off a compliment, you set a standard for your people. You send a signal that accepting genuine, heartfelt praise is not appropriate in your culture.

You want to send the opposite message. Praise and encouragement are critical facets of your servant culture. If you want others to be fueled by them, you must allow yourself to be fueled by them, too.

How can you accept a compliment with humility and grace?

You can train yourself to say…

“It’s taken me a long time to develop “x.” Thank you so much for appreciating the effort!”

“God is good! The support He’s provided to this team so that we could accomplish “x” is unbelievable.”

“Considering where I started, it feels really good to have come this far. Your compliment just gave me a real boost.”

Or, you can simply say…

“Thank you.”

A simple thank you is enough to embrace the compliment and allow the other person to serve you with their praise.


Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

Proverbs 15:30