Memo 1042: The Big Head

What do you do when you do something well? What's more, how do you handle it when someone compliments you for something you did well? If you're like some, you may not know what to do in those situations. You don't want to appear proud or egocentric, so you may actually minimize your strengths and achievements in your eyes and in the eyes of others. This may seem spiritual or noble, but it' can be detrimental. What should you do when you succeed or receive a compliment?  I'm glad you asked. For the answer, however, you will have to read on as we continue our series focusing on leadership and life lessons from the life of David.


We have looked at the story of David and Goliath the last two weeks. Last week, we saw how David made specific declarations of what he was about to do to Goliath. He then made good on his promises and killed Goliath with one stone from his slingshot. It's what he did next that answers the questions I raised above.

After Goliath fell, David cut off his head. That was one big head not only to cut off but also to carry around.

The armies of Israel were encouraged by David's victory, and went forth to win a great victory over the Philistine army. That was one byproduct of David's success. Then David did something else that would be quite uncharacteristic for many I know, perhaps even for you:

David took the Philistine's head and brought it to Jerusalem, and he put the Philistine's weapons in his own tent (1 Samuel 17:54).

What did David do with the head? I doubt he kept it in his tent or made a key chain out of it. He did what most champions did with such spoils of battle. David probably hung the head on a post for everyone to see. David celebrated his own victory and advertised his achievement. What's more, he kept a souvenir of the battle by keeping the giant's sword in his trophy case.

How does that answer the question of what to do when you achieve success? How does this give you insight into how you should respond when you receive a compliment?


David celebrated his victory. He wanted people to see Goliath's head so that they would be encouraged to fight their own battles. As a good leader, David wanted the people to see that they didn't have to cower in fear. More importantly, David didn't minimize his success. He didn't say, "Well, it was nothing. You know, it was a lucky shot and God really did it, it wasn't me."

Instead, David said, "Look what I've done." That's what you need to do as well. If someone compliments you on something you've done or for something you are, say, "Thank you." Don't push their praise away. Then tell them how the Lord helped you and what it was about you that He used in that moment. Perhaps you can post something on your social media expressions to let the world know of your success.

If you have done something and no one compliments you, then compliment yourself. Admire what you've done. Savor the moment, without being self-conscious or worrying about what others would think of you if they knew what you were doing. If you achieve a goal for which you have worked hard, throw yourself a party and invite your friends to celebrate with you. Take a trip in honor of your new job, degree, or finished project.

David knew how to celebrate his victories—first killing bears and lions and then taking down Goliath—and used them to spur himself and others on to greater things. You and I need to do the same. Don't worry about a big head; there will be enough tough knocks and challenges to keep your feet firmly planted in reality. When you do something great or when God uses you to do it, don't be afraid to acknowledge it was great!  And if others acknowledge that as well, then it's all the better.

This whole process may help you see that your biggest challenge may not be fear of failure, but of what you will do if and when you succeed. Can you handle success and the admiration of others? I hope you will learn to broadcast your victories rather than hide behind mediocrity so that no one is offended and you aren't uncomfortable. Aim for great things, do them, and tell the world, if others don't, of what you and God were able to do as a team. Have a great week!


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