Like many people in the Good Shepherd community, I am reading a chapter a day in the book of Proverbs during the month of January. Out loud.
So today being January 27th, I was naturally in Proverbs 27. And 27:21 made me do a double take while also interrupting my previous plans for today’s post:
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but man is tested by the praise he receives.
Tested by praise?!
You’d think we are tested by trial, opposition, grief, despair, or criticism. But praise?!
But therein lies the incomparable wisdom of Proverbs.
As someone for whom words of affirmation are the language of my soul, I know too well that praise can bring as much danger as blessing.
When receiving praise is our goal in ministry rather than an outcome of it, it’s dangerous.
When receiving praise leads to complacency, it’s dangerous.
When we begin to believe our own headlines, it’s dangerous.
When we measure our own efforts by the level of praise received, it’s dangerous.
Praise does in fact test us.
In your life and ministry, is it a goal or a result?
Does it lead to gratitude or complacency?
Does it serve as inspiration for more excellence . . . or as an excuse for maintaining your current level of effort?