This past holiday season I was working on a puzzle with my 5 year old niece. At my in-laws, I’m known as a good puzzler. I can sit and do three in a day if I’m feeling motivated. But this little girl can also puzzle. I’ve know her virtually her entire life and she was putting puzzles together much younger than what I previously thought possible.

Here’s a picture of the two of us on a family vacation last year. She’s adorable right? Wait until you hear how smart she is.


This particular day we were putting together a 3D horse puzzle I believe, and we were getting close to finishing it. As I locked another piece into place Olivia looked up at me and said, “You’re really good at doing puzzles Kirsten.”

If I’m being completely honest, I was totally flattered. Who doesn’t love being told you’re good at something, even if it’s by a 5 year old? I also didn’t really know what to say. How do you thank a 5 year old and not gloat about your puzzling skills? After-all I wanted her to be encouraged too. Because like I said–girl can puzzle!

So I said something along the lines of, “Well thanks Olivia, I really like doing puzzles.”

What she said next stopped me in my tracks. How can a 5 year old have so much wisdom and insight? How can a 26 year old not even accept a compliment as simple as being good at puzzles? Why does false-humility exist?

“That’s not what I said–I said you were good at puzzles,” Olivia said rather firmly.

I stared at her absolutely shocked. I stammered my way through a response, “You’re right Olivia, that’s not what I should have said. I should have said thank you, that was really nice of you to say.”

She totally called me out for side-stepping her compliment. She told me I was good at puzzles, and I responded by saying I enjoyed doing them.

When someone compliments a strength of yours, don’t dismiss the compliment. Don’t dodge it in an effort to appear humble. Because if a 5 year old can see through that act so can any reasonable adult.

God has given me a lot of skills, talent, and gifts. And while puzzling isn’t something I would put at the top of the list, it certainly got me thinking about how I can glorify God in my responses to compliments from other people.

After-all, nothing I’m good at– no skills, no passion, no results come from me and my hard work. I could accomplish nothing without his love and provision. He’s constantly watching over me. Guiding me. Helping me grow. His love is the reason I can pursue my goals. His sacrifice on the cross so I could live a life of freedom is everything. Without it there’s no meaning.

Without it I could mindlessly put together a puzzle for the rest of my life and never take part in the work of his kingdom. But with him? With him I can share his love with others. I can thank people for compliments while giving credit to his love and mercy. I can teach a 5 year old that sometimes puzzles are hard even for me, but with focus and dedication she can put together any puzzle she sets her mind to. Who wouldn’t want to encourage this little snuggle bug on my hip?

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With God, all things are possible. Including teaching a grown person to be humble and accept a compliment. False-humility doesn’t glorify God. True humility– realizing he is the provider of every gift–that’s honoring to him.

So stop dismissing compliments. Say thank you. Acknowledge the gifts God has given you, give him the glory, and go do the work he’s called you to.

There’s life to be lived.