“A Word at Its Right Time Is O How Good!”
DURING a day-long assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Kim did her best to listen and take notes while trying to keep her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter sitting quietly. At the conclusion of the program, a Christian sister sitting in the same row turned to Kim and sincerely commended her for the way she and her husband had looked after their daughter during the program. That commendation meant so much to Kim that even now, years later, she says: “When I feel particularly tired at meetings, I think of what that sister said. Her kind words still encourage me to continue to train our daughter.” Indeed, timely words can lift a person’s spirit. The Bible states: “A word at its right time is O how good!”—Proverbs 15:23.
For some of us, though, commending others may be difficult. At times, being conscious of our own inadequacies can make it hard to do so. Says one Christian: “For me, it’s like standing on soft ground. The more I lift others up, the more I feel myself being pushed down.” Such factors as shyness, insecurity, or the fear of being misunderstood can also make it difficult to offer commendation. In addition, if we personally received little or no recognition while growing up, we may find it hard to commend others.
Nevertheless, knowing that commendation may have a good effect on both the giver and the recipient might move us to do our best to give a word of commendation at the right time. (Proverbs 3:27) What, then, are the positive effects that result from doing so? Let us briefly consider some.
Appropriate commendation can build confidence in the recipient. “When people commend me, I feel that they have confidence in me, that they believe in me,” says Elaine, a Christian wife. Yes, to commend someone lacking confidence can give that person courage to deal with obstacles, and as a result, he finds joy. Youths especially benefit from deserved commendation. One teenager who admits to being discouraged by her own negative thoughts says: “I always try my best to please Jehovah, but sometimes I feel that no matter what I do, it is not good enough. When someone commends me, I feel very good inside.” True, indeed, is the Bible proverb: “As apples of gold in silver carvings is a word spoken at the right time for it.”—Proverbs 25:11.
Commendation can motivate and encourage a person. One full-time minister says, “Commendation encourages me to work harder and to improve the quality of my ministry.” A mother of two observes that when her children receive acknowledgment from other members of the congregation for giving comments at meetings, they want to comment more. Yes, it can motivate young ones to make progress in Christian living. In fact, all of us need to be reassured that we are appreciated and valued. This stress-filled world may leave us tired and weighed down. A Christian elder says, “At times when I am discouraged, commendation is like an answer to my prayers.” Similarly, Elaine says, “Sometimes I feel that Jehovah shows his approval of me through the expressions of others.”
Being commended can create a sense of belonging. Giving genuine commendation shows thoughtfulness and builds an atmosphere of warmth, security, and appreciation. It is evidence that we truly love our fellow Christians and appreciate them. Josie, a mother, says: “In the past, I had to take my stand for the truth in a religiously divided household. At that time, receiving recognition from spiritually mature individuals strengthened my resolve not to give up.” Indeed, “we are members belonging to one another.”—Ephesians 4:25.
Wanting to commend helps us to see the good in others. We look at the strengths of others, not at their weaknesses. A Christian elder named David says, “Being appreciative of what others do will help us to commend others more often.” Keeping in mind how liberal Jehovah and his Son are in speaking well of imperfect humans will move us to be generous in this regard.—Matthew 25:21-23; 1 Corinthians 4:5.
Jehovah God, by reason of his Creatorship, is foremost among those who deserve to be praised. (Revelation 4:11) Although he does not need us to build his confidence or to motivate him, when we praise Jehovah for his awesomeness and his loving-kindness, he draws close to us and we develop a relationship with him. Praising God also nurtures a healthy and modest estimation of our own achievements and causes us to attribute our successes to Jehovah. (Jeremiah 9:23, 24) Jehovah extends to all deserving humans the prospect of everlasting life, and that is yet another motivating reason for praising him. (Revelation 21:3, 4) King David of old was eager to “praise the name of God” and “magnify him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:30) May that be our desire as well.
Fellow worshippers are deserving of appropriate commendation. When we give it, we act in harmony with the divine command to “consider one another to incite to love and fine works.” (Hebrews 10:24) Exemplary in this regard was the apostle Paul. He wrote to the congregation in Rome: “First of all, I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ concerning all of you, because your faith is talked about throughout the whole world.” (Romans 1:8) Similarly, the apostle John acknowledged his fellow Christian Gaius for his sterling example of “walking in the truth.”—3 John 1-4.
Today, when a fellow Christian displays a Christlike quality in an exemplary manner, delivers a well-prepared meeting part, or makes a heartfelt comment during a meeting, we have a fine opportunity to express our appreciation to that individual. Or when a child tries hard to look up scriptures during congregation meetings, we can offer commendation. Elaine, mentioned earlier, comments: “We differ in our gifts. By noting what someone else does, we show our appreciation for the variety of gifts among God’s people.”
In the Family
What about expressing appreciation to members of our own family? It takes much time, effort, and loving attention for husband and wife to provide spiritual, emotional, and material support for their family. Surely they deserve to hear words of commendation from each other and from their children. (Ephesians 5:33) For instance, regarding a capable wife, God’s Word says: “Her sons have risen up and proceeded to pronounce her happy; her owner rises up, and he praises her.”—Proverbs 31:10, 28.
Children also deserve commendation. Sadly, some parents are quick to tell their children what they expect from them but rarely commend them for the effort they put forth in being respectful and obedient. (Luke 3:22) When given in the early years of a child’s development, commendation often makes the child feel wanted and more secure.
Granted, it takes effort to commend others, but we reap many benefits from doing so. In fact, the more diligent we are in commending those who are deserving, the greater our happiness will be.—Acts 20:35.
Accept and Give Commendation in the Right Spirit
Receiving commendation can, however, pose a test for some. (Proverbs 27:21) It could, for example, foster feelings of superiority in individuals who have a tendency to be proud. (Proverbs 16:18) Hence, there is reason for caution. The apostle Paul gave this down-to-earth admonition: “I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind, each one as God has distributed to him a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3) To help others not to fall into the trap of thinking too much of themselves, it may be wise not to focus on such traits as keen intelligence or good looks. Instead, we should acknowledge others for their fine deeds.
When given and accepted in the right spirit, words of commendation can affect us in a positive way. We may be moved to acknowledge our indebtedness to Jehovah for anything good that we have done. Commendation may also encourage us to continue conducting ourselves in a fine manner.
Sincere and well-deserved commendation is a gift that all of us can give. When we thoughtfully bestow it upon someone, it may mean more to the recipient than we will ever know.
[Box/Picture on page 18]
A Letter That Touched Her Heart
One traveling overseer remembers well one occasion when he and his wife returned to their accommodations after a very chilly winter day in the ministry. He says: “My wife was cold and discouraged, and she told me that she felt she couldn’t continue. ‘How much better,’ she said, ‘it would be to serve in the full-time ministry with a congregation, stay in one place, and conduct our own Bible studies.’ I deferred any decision, saying that we would continue for the rest of the week and see how she felt by then. If she still felt strongly about quitting, I would respect her feelings. That same day, we stopped at the post office and found a letter from the branch office that was addressed to her personally. The letter contained warm commendation for her efforts in the field ministry and her endurance, acknowledging how difficult it can be to sleep in a different bed every week. She was so touched by that commendation that she never again spoke of leaving the traveling work. In fact, several times she encouraged me to continue when I thought of quitting.” This couple remained in the traveling work for almost 40 years.
[Picture on page 17]
Who in your congregation is deserving of commendation?
[Picture on page 19]
Children thrive on loving attention and commendation