Would you mind…if I praise you?

David Staff   -  

Some 3 years ago, April Stevenson authored an important blog called The Power of Words: Positive vs Negative, in which she cited the research of John Gottman.  Gottman studied 700 married couples.  He wondered if there was any correlation between the amount of negative vs. positive experiences (i.e., verbal exchanges, emotional incidents) a couple had and the longevity of the marital relationship. 

He also wondered how many positive experiences were needed to counter-balance the negative ones.

Other researchers have conducted similar studies, and most land on a similar result.  Over ten years of observation, Gottman concluded that a 5:1 ratio (or greater) was needed for a marriage to survive; that is, for every negative exchange or interaction, there needed to be at least five positive ones.  He also suggested that he could predict, with 94% accuracy, whether or not a marriage would succeed or fail (in divorce) based on whether or not the 5:1 ratio was maintained in the relationship.

Other researchers have reached similar conclusions.  Stevenson suggests the ratio ranges from 7:1 to 4:1.

Of course, this kind of research provides important insight into the tone and joy (or lack thereof) of many of our relationships.  As you were growing up, what was the ratio of praise vs. critique in your home?  Did your parents commend you more frequently, or was scolding the preferred default? 

What does your spouse hear more from you, complaint or compliment?  What are you hearing?  What about your kids?  What’s filling your teen’s ears?  Or when you come away from a fellowship time with other believers, is the tone more rancorous, or refreshing?


Proverbs 12:18 – “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

I’ve always been taken with the vivid picture of this proverb.  Imagine someone with a sharp sword repeatedly gouging and slashing into someone else’s body, slicing through vital organs, causing unspeakable pain.  How awful!  The deep, life-taking thrusts of rash words

Conversely, imagine the soothing ointment on a wound which relieves pain and refreshes.  The tongue of the wise.  Study “words” and “tongue” in the Proverbs.  With an open heart, the Lord’s Spirit may just change how you and I use our mouths (cf. James 3:1-12).


Christ Community Church family…I want to praise you.  Over the years as your pastor, I am certain I’ve not lived up to the 5:1 ratio with you.  Please forgive me.  I have so much for which to thank God in all of you.

  • You love the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel
  • You hunger for His Word each week; you love the truth of God
  • You are keenly missing the fellowship of your spiritual family
  • You are incredible prayer warriors for each other
  • You are immediately responsive when there is a need in your connect group, or in the larger CCC body of believers
  • You regularly bless and encourage our leaders and our church ministry staff
  • You do not rejoice over evil; you have a passion to see righteousness expressed in our church family and in the world at large
  • You love and pray for your neighbors, your co-workers, your school, your city, our country
  • You love to sing and worship together
  • You are a team of great servants
  • You have given sacrificially, over and over and over again, because you love the mission and ministry the Lord Jesus has given us
  • You have a heart for the world, and lovingly welcome internationals into our fellowship as God brings them to us
  • You prayerfully make good decisions at our membership meetings
  • You trust and pray for our leaders
  • You long for the return of our great God and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ

I could go on.  I will! 

I praise the presence of the Lord Jesus in each of you who have believed the Gospel.  I am so grateful you allow the Spirit to flow through you, that you allow God to make your day, that you share your tough stuff with fellow disciples, that you want your ‘welcome mat’ to get more wear and tear, that you ‘go fishing’ with one another in serving, and that you know eternal investments will pay the best dividends.

Thank you!  You’re the best.  What a church!  Praise the Lord for someone today, and praise one another whenever you get the chance.

There’s God’s power in such habits.