“Hi, my name is Jessica. Are you calling to give a compliment or a complaint?”
My husband gently responded, “I’d like to give a compliment to one of your drivers.”
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?”
How’s my driving?
“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 this phone number, so I spent the next few minutes noting everything he was doing right.”
She couldn’t believe it. After ten years on the job, receiving back-to-back complaints about her drivers for eight hours a day, this call was the first compliment she had ever received.
In her amusement she prodded him, “Please go on . . .”
Seeing the good
“Well, he was doing a fantastic job staying between the lines.”
She was now laughing hysterically. “Tell me more, sir. What else did he do right?” She was cracking herself up.
My husband began to get more creative while still remaining truthful. “Your driver maintained an adequate distance between his vehicle and the vehicle in front of him. He made multiple lane changes and used his turn indicator every single time.”
Before he continued, we overheard Jessica boasting to her coworkers in nearby cubicles. “Hey, everyone, you’ll never guess what I have on the line—a compliment!” She must’ve put us on speaker because we could hear the obvious enjoyment from her coworkers as we wrapped up the call. Jessica thanked us, and my husband and I hung up smiling, eyes peeled for other good truck drivers on the road.
Looking for God’s image
Since I’ve witnessed my husband’s pastime of complimenting truck drivers, I’ve begun to understand the power of seeking to find the good in others. And what is the very best “good” we can find in someone? God’s image, of course. Whether they know Him or not.
My husband didn’t mention God by name, but he did choose to find His image. He chose to see the good, he chose to see the right, he chose to see God’s image. Here’s something I’ve learned: if you are on the lookout for things to complain about, you will absolutely find them. If you’re looking for the downsides to yourself, your experiences, and others, you will absolutely find them. And you won’t just find them, you’ll magnify them.
We can find God everywhere
It’s a promise. In Jeremiah 29:13, God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV).
Jeremiah 29:13 is one of the greatest texts in the Old Testament. It shows us how to approach God and also presents an astounding truth: God is findable. When you seek to find God, you’ll find who you’re looking for. It’s like He’s written a communication equation for us:
Seek God = Find God!
What a beautiful promise.
But here’s another thing I’ve learned: we have to take God at His Word and not add to His equation. God is both the path and the goal.
What we seek is important because it dictates what we find. If we’re not careful, we’ll fall into the all-too-familiar-trap of merely finding and focusing on what people do wrong. No wonder it took ten years for Jessica to hear a compliment—we’re prone to critique.
We have to be intentional about what we’re seeking because it will inevitably have an effect on what we’ll find.
If we seek perfection in others, we’ll find all the ways they fall short. There’s another way. Rather than falling prey to human nature by seeking and expecting perfection, we can seek to find the person they’re becoming.
Luckily, we’re not without a model ourselves. Jesus, the One we’re seeking to become more like every day, not only saw the best in people—He saw who they were becoming before they had arrived.
Find who they are becoming
From choosing unqualified disciples, to sharing meals with sinners, to the thief He forgave on the cross, Jesus found moments to seek and find the person they were becoming.
While we don’t have the same ability to foresee the future, in these present moments, we have the opportunity to seek and find the good by pointing out the seemingly small, yet incredibly significant moments where people get things right. In seeking to find the good, and when we point out what others are doing right, we show them a lifestyle that is counter-cultural. How do I know? Because it took ten years for Jessica to receive a compliment.
Will you join me as we try to make seeking to find the good in others a conscious habit? Let me tell you, we have to be intentional to do so. If we’re not intentional, we’ll drift toward a critical life—critiquing terrible drivers and complaining about frustrating people. Thankfully, intentionally seeking and finding the good in others has become one of my greatest delights—and, as a result, people get to see the good in me, too.
Megan Fate Marshman loves God and His church. She is a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, speaks to audiences internationally, leads the women’s ministry at Arbor Road Church, and serves as director of women’s ministries at Hume Lake Christian Camps.
She recently released her newest book Meant for Good and Bible study curriculum. She currently lives in southern California with her family. You can also find out more about Megan Fate Marshman by visiting meganfate.com or by following her on Instagram @meganfate.