Monday, May 28, 2007

Anything Worthy of Praise

"Finally brethren...if there be anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."

At work, a new employee who loves to be sarcastic, doubts anything good that I mention about his performance. He mentions that his generation (twenty-somethings) have been lavishly praised throughout their lives because of parents and teachers who worry about damaging their self-esteem. He tells me that he's not typical of his generation. My dear co-worker has an extremely dry wit that he puts into practice by asking me to critique his job on cleaning. I catch on only half way through my positive feedback, because he is finding it hilarious. I realize that he is testing me to see if I really mean what I say, or if I am manipulative. I appreciate this.

On my way to work, I heard over the radio that studies have shown that children learn better when praise is scarce, and that too much praise by teachers and parents could actually hold them back. There is no mention of how that affects the workplace. Or family life. Or friendships. Or marriages. And in our celebrity and television driven culture. Or spiritually, in our relationship to God.

When we are trained to relate to that which only makes us feel good about ourselves, it leaves us in Proverbs "fool" catagory. And it waters down the meaning of anything truly worthy of praise.

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