“Hi, my name is Jessica. Are you calling to give a compliment or a complaint?”
My husband responded, “I’m calling to give a compliment.”
There was a long pause. “I’m sorry, I think I may have misheard you. Did you say you’re calling to give a compliment?”
“Yes, you heard me correctly. I’d love to compliment one of your truck drivers. I’ve been driving behind him and noticed a ‘How’s-My-Driving?’ sign and a 1-800 number so I spent the next few minutes mentally noting everything he was doing right.”
Jessica couldn’t believe it. She immediately got a case of the giggles. After 10 years on the job receiving eight hours a day of back-to-back-to-back complaints about her drivers, this call was literally the very first compliment call she had ever received.
In her amusement she prodded him, “Please go on …”
My husband spoke up, “Well, he was doing a fantastic job staying in between the lines.”
She was now laughing hysterically. “Please tell me more, sir. What else did he do right?”
My husband began getting more creative while still remaining truthful.
“Your driver maintained an adequate distance between his vehicle and the vehicle in front of him.” He continued, “Your driver also made multiple lane changes and used his turn indicator every … single … time.”
Screaming with laughter, she requested, “Please say that lane change one again!”
She wanted to make sure she jotted down each word so she could accurately share the story at the next lunch break without missing a single, hilariously simple detail with the other customer-service employees who were likely wearied from constant complaints.
Before my husband continued, we overheard her boasting to her coworkers in nearby cubicles. “Hey, everyone, you’ll never guess what I have on the line—a compliment!” Her coworkers were as shocked as she was.
Since witnessing my husband’s pastime of complimenting truck drivers, I’ve begun seeking to find the best in other areas of life. It’s amazing what a compliment can do!
Often, what we seek dictates what we find. If we’re not careful, we’ll fall into the all-too-familiar trap of finding and focusing on what people do wrong. No wonder it took 10 years for Jessica to hear a compliment; people are prone to critique. Not only is this true while driving, it’s urgent because it’s also true in our parenting.
If we seek perfection in our children, we’ll find all the ways they fall short. But a different focus is possible! Rather than falling prey to human nature by seeking perfection, we can seek to find the people our children are becoming. Our kids need parents who see Christ in them.
Gladly, we’re not without a model. Jesus, the one we seek to become like, not only saw the best in people, He saw who they were becoming before they had arrived. From choosing unqualified disciples, to sharing meals with sinners, to forgiving a thief on the cross, Jesus found opportune moments to call out who people were becoming.
We, too, can make a habit of seeking and finding the best in our kids by pointing out the seemingly small yet incredibly significant moments when they get things right. Not only does it impact them in that moment, it will impact their future habits as well. By pointing out what our kids do right, we’re modeling a countercultural lifestyle. How do I know? Because it took 10 years for Jessica to receive a compliment.
Over the past few months, I’ve made seeking the best in people, especially my family, a conscious habit. And, my friends, let me tell you, we have to be intentional to do this. If we’re not intentional, we’ll drift toward a critical life—critiquing terrible drivers and complaining about frustrating people. I don’t want my kids to live this way, and, as their model, it starts with me. Thankfully, intentionally seeking and finding the best in my boys has become one of my greatest delights—and, as a result, they’re getting to see the best in me.
Let’s vocalize the little wins. And, as we do, we’ll be reminding them that we not only see their mistakes, we are seeking and finding who God is shaping them to become. This will serve as a model for how they see themselves in the future.
Make a habit of finding the best in people today. May every “1-800-How’s My Driving?” sign be a reminder of the invitation to seek, find, and enjoy pointing out the best in your family. Let’s make complimenting a constant as we seek to find in them what Jesus has found in us—the best version of