My music teacher was over 70, kind, old-fashioned, and somewhat fastidious. But he had a way of making you feel special. He would always take you seriously and express interest in your plans and desires for the future. If he asked “How are you?” I came to realize he genuinely wanted an answer beyond “Fine” and would be totally okay with getting a day-by-day layout of your week and what you had done.

Even though I was brash and energetic, he smiled at my reckless statements and overabundance of excitement. He said it showed I was a leader and going places.

He taught me many things, but one of the greatest things I learned from him was how to give a compliment. Here are some of the points that I observed from him:

  • He would give compliments casually, but they would always be personalized and specific. Nothing nice he said was out of politeness or societal “duty.” You felt as though he would rather say nothing than something generic or careless.
  • Most of the compliments he gave were an acknowledgement of some effort or positive characteristic that he wanted his students to display. Even when he complimented an outfit, he would say something that recognized the thought and self-respect that was involved in being well-groomed.
  • He would make complimentary remarks about people, whether they were there to hear it or not. This was one way that I understood his genuineness and sincerity, because he wasn’t doing it to stroke people’s egos or only to make them feel good about themselves, but because he honestly appreciated something about them or liked something they did.
  • If he heard someone else say something positive about you, he would always pass on what they’d said. On the other hand, I never once heard him say or repeat anything negative.

His secret was that he was simply interested in people and humble enough to take time to notice them. And in doing this, he created a network of people—both peers and pupils—that loved him. He never actually talked about much that wasn’t related to music; he certainly didn’t teach or lecture on anything else—but whether his students became musicians, teachers, doctors, sports players, pastors, or engineers, we all became kinder because of his compliments.

If you haven’t yet experienced a personal relationship with Jesus, He wants to become a very real part of your life both here and now, and forever in eternity. You can begin that relationship with Him by praying this prayer:

Jesus, please forgive me for all my shortcomings. I open the door to my heart and I invite You into my life. Please fill me with Your love and Holy Spirit, help me get to know You, and guide me in the way of truth. Amen.