Be Generous with Your Praise - The Warrior's Journey®

Be Generous with Your Praise

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6) 

He has been called the greatest homerun hitter and baseball slugger of all time. He batted a phenomenal .461 in his rookie year. In his fifth year of professional baseball he batted .467 and hit an astounding 55 homeruns. The following year he blew that benchmark away with an incredible 69 homeruns. His lifetime accumulation of homeruns is disputed because of poor record keeping, but estimates run in excess of 900. Who was this towering figure?  Why is it likely that you’ve never heard of him? The man was the immortal Negro League baseball hero, Josh Gibson. Despite his stellar performance, he was denied the chance to ever play in the Major Leagues.   

Perhaps the most heart-rending aspect of his story was that this sensitive man, who yearned for recognition for his sporting feats, performed in abject obscurity. Throughout his professional career he would only hear the praise of other baseball players – Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, and a host of other white Major League players. An unsung hero, forced to dwell in endless anonymity and endure meager pay and sub-standard living conditions, Josh Gibson’s emotional and physical health began to deteriorate.   

In his last few years in the game he was racked with terrible knee pain and suffered from high blood pressure. But the lack of recognition did most of the damage – damage to his heart and soul.  He drank heavily to self-medicate and numb his emotional pain. On January 20, 1947 he died from a stroke at the age of 35 – just three months before Jackie Robinson breached the color barrier in baseball – without even enough money for a funeral or gravestone. Those who knew him were convinced Josh Gibson had died from a broken heart. The Editor for the Pittsburgh Courier spoke for many when he wrote: “I know the real reason Josh Gibson died. I don’t need a doctor’s report for confirmation either. He was murdered by big league baseball.”  

Every human being needs recognition and praise for hard work. We hunger for approval from parents, peers and other important people in our lives.  Psychologist William James once said, “The deepest principle in the human heart is the craving to be appreciated.” Pastor and author, Cecil Osborne said, “Perhaps once in a hundred years a person may be ruined by excessive praise, but surely once every minute someone dies inside for lack of it.” Here in Colossians 4:6, Paul tells us to fill our words with grace – that is, to say more than is actually deserved. Far too many leaders are stingy and “judicious” with their praise. In reality, they should lavish their praise on subordinates. For mere words can never to do justice to the profound significance of a human life. 


  • Think. Who in your command is badly in need of encouragement and praise? 
  • Will you wait until they have gotten in trouble and it is too late to praise them? 
  • Be generous now with your praise. It’s easy to tear down, but not to build up. 

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