Not long ago, my daughter-in-law Dallas sent a picture to the whole family of my son Steve holding their five-month-old son. Dallas realized too late that it revealed more of my son’s white legs than she’d intended. Our other son Jeff typed a reply, “Those are really nice shorts, Steve. Do they have them in men’s sizes?” That’s what they call a backhanded compliment. Sort of like saying, “I love the way that yellow shirt brings out your teeth.”
Here are a few more backhanded compliments that you must promise me you’ll never use:
– “That’s a really great picture of you. In fact, it doesn’t look like you at all.”
– “I wish I was brave enough to wear what you do.”
– “Every day I love you more than the next.”
I was once told that I have a face for radio. I was flattered until I thought about it. As you well know, I host a radio show, not a TV program. Laugh Again came about, not because of my stunning good looks, but because we think the world could use a little good cheer. The truth is, most of us have heard far too many backhanded compliments and not enough forehanded ones. Ill-placed words steal our joy. Well-placed words can change someone’s world forever.
Not long ago I met Stan. I hadn’t seen him in 25 years. As we laughed together, he told me of the time my brother Dan coached him in hockey. And this is what Dan told him in front of the team: “You’re the man, Stan. If you can’t do it, nobody can.” As he told me this, Stan’s eyes began to water. “I grew up in a home where I didn’t hear affirming words,” he said. This little ditty still travels with him everywhere he goes, helping him stickhandle a task – even conquer doubt and fear.
Proverbs 15:4 says, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” Ephesians 4:29 says, “Watch the way you talk….Say only what helps, each word a gift.” A few simple life-giving words can alter the trajectory of someone’s life. Would you speak them today? You are dearly loved by God, so go ahead and overflow with that love. Even if you have a face for radio.