“Most Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead. Many Christian empire-builders have been people unable to give and receive love.” – Henri Nouwen
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” You’ve heard this oft-quoted saying of Jesus through Paul in Acts 20:35 in his farewell to the Ephesians, admonishing that they must help the weak. Giving is emphasized in the Church and it should be, but we often translate this verse, “You’re blessed if you give, NOT when you receive. So make sure you’re always on the giving end.” Somedamaged souls work hard to never need to RECEIVE – to be given, presented with, or paid something. They not only have a hard time receiving but struggle with the idea that there’s any blessing there. Jesus said giving is more blessed, but receiving is blessed too. There will be times when we’re on the receiving end: of advice, of gifts, of opportunities, of miracles, and of goodwill. We need to receive to develop humility and gratefulness and to bind our relationships with God and one another.
Blocking Compliments Like A Linebacker
Some of us are so averse to receiving, that we can’t even take compliments. The church is notorious for this. Scripture says, “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, not your own lips.” (Prov. 27:2) But…do we LET them praise us? What happens when someone commends or admires us, or applauds what we’ve done? THE most awkward responses: from blushes to deflections, to the church approved, “Glory to God!” (We should give God glory, but not fake it because we’re too uncomfortable to receive kudos). Sadly, we’ve at times lost sincerity. Maybe we could start regaining the ability to give AND receive by encouraging each other. Here are some good phrases with which to start. Henri Nouwen is right, we cannot show this world a love that we’re unable to give and receive. For those who’ve experienced trauma and pain in their lifetimes, believing they’re worthy to receive love, then giving and receiving it is very difficult.
I RECEIVE YOUR LOVE
In 2013 Israel Houghton released, ‘I Receive,”a powerful song whose lyrics ring out, “Accepted, highly favored of the LORD. Forgiven, by Your love I am transformed. It’s not what I do, but what You’ve done for me. And by Your grace, oh God, I stand with my head held high. I receive Your love! I receive Your love for me. I receive Your love, I know I am accepted!” In this time, where some of our relationships are in jeopardy and the powers of this world are dolling out hatred, rejection, and vitriol; it is not only comforting but crucial for us to be able to receive God’s approval and validation. At times He does that directly, at other times it’s through US. So if you see something beautiful in someone, speak it.