Wrapping Compliments 101

Merry Christmas, High Point Church!

As you’re checking off your shopping lists this year, it’s important to remember that you have more to offer those around you than what your bank account shows. In fact, some of the best gifts I’ve ever received never had a price tag.
 

“Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” – Proverbs 16:24 NLT

 
Currently my office shelves are full of notes, letters, and cards from youth students who seem to know the perfect time to give encouragements. Those are some of my most treasured gifts. Why? Because our youth students know how to give a good compliment!
 
Have you ever received a gift wrapped hastily in old newspaper? Or stuffed in a crinkled paper bag? Maybe the state of the wrapping didn’t make a difference to you! Until you received another gift, wrapped with obvious care, a large bow and silk ribbon, and quality wrapping paper. That’s the kind of gift that makes its way on Instagram and is remembered for a long time to come!
 
We can do the same thing with our compliments either wrap them nicely or stuff them in a crinkly Star Tribune sports section. This is what I’ve learned from our students
 
So, here are 3 tips that I hope will help you give some well-wrapped compliments this season!
 
  1. Be Genuine
 
The ultimate worth of a compliment can be determined by the amount of sincerity behind it. Little does its extravagance matter if it’s not given out of a sincere heart.
 
The “wrapping” for a genuine compliment happens beyond the words. How much thought went into your encouragement? Did you look beyond the obvious to find something really meaningful? Did you take a moment to look the person in the eye when you said it?
 
A quick “you’re amazing” or “I love that sweater” are nice to hear, but they don’t in themselves demonstrate a lot of genuine thought. Those kinds of passing encouragements can start to seem especially insincere when added up over time, like socks gifted every Christmas (C’mon, Aunt Karen, where’s the love?).
 
Here’s my experience if you could easily say it about a plate of food (i.e. “This burger is wonderful” or “That is some beautiful cheesecake”), it’s not a memorable compliment. We use those kinds of phrases all the time for just about anything. I know your friends and family are more important to you than your food!
 
Perhaps the easiest way to start the process for a genuine compliment is to find something you genuinely appreciate about the person. Are they peaceful around you when your life is hectic? Do they treat your kids with unconditional kindness? Do they demonstrate leadership skills that you’ve learned from? What do you sincerely love about them?
 
Let them know, sincerely, right out of your heart.
 

COMPARE

  • “You are such a great person.”
  • “You are such a great example of selflessness to me and the rest of this family.”
 
 
  1. Be Specific
 
I tried to hold out, but I can’t hide my love for what I do, so here comes the worship analogy! What I’ve noticed since joining the High Point worship team is that the songs that really seem to ‘pop’ in the congregation are the songs that dig beneath the surface to describe a specific aspect or outcome of God’s character.
 
Let’s take “What a Beautiful Name” for instance. What a great song! Brooke Ligertwood’s worship hit actually rated #1 in CCLI’s top 100 songs for the last two years, and for good reason. It’s theologically rich, catchy, touching, intimate, upward-focused… and it’s specific.
 
Every chorus of “What a Beautiful Name” repeats a simple line, “What a beautiful / wonderful / powerful name it is,” but each line is preceded by the reason for its truth a background that gives the simple line its deep impact:
 
“You were the Word at the beginning / One with God the Lord Most High / Your hidden glory in creation now revealed in You our Christ. . . . What a beautiful name it is.”
 
“You didn’t want heaven without us / so Jesus You brought heaven down / My sin was great but Your love was greater / What could separate us now? . . . What a wonderful name it is.”
 
“Death could not hold You / The veil tore before you. . . . The heavens are roaring the praise of Your glory. . . . Yours is the name above all names. . . . What a powerful name it is.”
 
If this song was originally released with only those three main lines, it’s not like it would have been inaccurate. No one could argue the truth of God’s beauty, wonder, and power, right? But those lines likely wouldn’t have been as impactful as they are without the specific references to why His name is beautiful, wonderful, and powerful.
 
The same goes for the compliments we give to each other. I could say you’re great, but what does that mean? Why are you great? What did you do that made me notice your greatness?
 
I’m not going to downplay the time this takes. It takes attention and thought, but even the simplest lines will be impactful if you can back them up with specific examples.
 

COMPARE

  • “You are amazing!”
  • “When I passed by Kids Club earlier I saw you teaching and noticed that all of the kids were captivated by the funny voices you used to tell the story. You are amazing with children!”
 
 
  1. Be Generous
 

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” – Proverbs 12:25 ESV

 
If you think of it, say it.
 
Often God puts thoughts in our heads that are exactly what someone else needs to hear. If you feel something kind to say sitting in your heart, don’t let it decay there! Let the person know. Something the youth students are especially good at is noticing when another student or leader is having a difficult day, and doing what they can with their words to turn that day around.
 
I’ll never forget one of the nights when I was really contemplating whether I was the right person for the job. I received a homemade art piece from one of the youth with a handwritten thank you on the back, specifically referring to some messages I had given that had helped them grow spiritually. That artwork has a proud place in my office and still encourages me to this day.
 
There’s never a bad time to encourage someone. Many of us need it, even if we don’t show the need. What Happens When a Compliment is Well Wrapped?
 
Before I learned these compliment wrapping techniques from the students, my encouragements to them would look something like, “You’re really a great student. I’m glad to have you on my team!” Certainly the compliments would lighten their faces for a moment, but they didn’t seem to stick. Self-esteem was still low, youth teams were falling apart, and I could see that a lot of students were still going home as discouraged as when they arrived.
 
After the encouragement notes and cards began coming in, I started to format my compliments more like the youth did. Instead of saying, “You’re a really great student” I would be more genuine about what I really appreciated: “You have been such an incredible help to me cleaning up after youth group is over.” Instead of saying, “I’m glad to have you on my team,” I would be more specific about their value on the team: “You have been one of my best greeters. Last week I watched you talk to one of the students who has been most shy as soon as they walked in the door, and even this week that student spoke up in small groups. You are so good at helping other students feel like they fit in!”
 
What happens when a compliment is well wrapped? Suddenly the youth greeting team grew. Suddenly students wanted to start using their creative talents on the media team. Suddenly students became more vocal about their desire to be worship leaders. I didn’t pay a penny. The youth leaders just started to take the time to give genuine, specific, and generous compliments!
 
I know this is a busy season for many of you. And the busyness tends to strip away our ability to deal sensitively with hyper kids, opinionated parents, or equally occupied spouses. Please remember that your gift giving doesn’t need to wait until Christmas! Start now. Wrap your compliments well and watch the difference it makes with your friends and family. “Compliment Christmas” can go on all year at your house, at your job, or in your school. It won’t cost you a thing, and it will enrich the lives of everyone around you!
 
-Catherine Lexvold, Worship & Youth Director