Last week, I received an award. It’s the first one I’ve received in my career as an entrepreneur, and quite honestly, it was fun to be recognized.

I was among sixteen people being named an Employer of Distinction. As we shared breakfast it was very clear that we were all very normal, every-day sort of folks. Not the kind of people who typically receive awards. We were being recognized for creating opportunity and meaningful jobs in our community.

What we also had in common was discomfort at being recognized.

It’s strange, how even though we were just in a meeting room, in front of 40 or 50 people, only one of the 16 honorees enthusiastically received their award with a giant smile, handshake, and enormous confidence. In fact, she took great joy in posing for her photo with the presenter. It was refreshing and fun to watch her. Almost without fail, the others looked somewhere between slightly and enormously uncomfortable as they listened to the generous praise of the emcee before accepting a framed certificate and having their photo taken.

It was clear – we are so uncomfortable and even awkward about accepting positive recognition from others for using our gifts and talents.

There’s a song on the radio right now that says “I feel like the frame that gets to hold the Mona Lisa, And I don’t care if that’s all I ever do.”

You see, I wonder if perhaps that should be true for all of us?

I have it on great authority that you and I are masterpieces, friend. You are a unique “Mona Lisa”. And although we are walking, talking, living, breathing masterpieces in our own right, part of our purpose is in also revealing and esteeming the masterpieces all around us. We are both the masterpiece and the frame for other masterpieces.

Instead, it seems that so often we’re stingy on praise, afraid to feed egos, suspicious that others get too much applause and praise. This makes it feel awkward to receive recognition and be esteemed by others. It’s a strange thing – I don’t actually know if I can recall one person that I know that gets too much praise. To be clear, I think it’s an issue if we live for applause and praise, but I think it’s more common to have the opposite flaw. I remember a situation a number of years ago when I was criticized for complimenting people. The charge against me? I couldn’t possibly mean all the positive things I had said. But I did – every last one. All I had done was tell others the nice things I noticed and appreciated.

What if we traded in our stingy ways and chose to believe that in giving and accepting recognition we acknowledge that it is good to exercise the gifts we’ve been given? That these gifts that make our families, workplaces, communities and nations more beautiful, colourful and full of life are valuable and appreciated. And in recognizing the gifts, we recognize the Giver of every good and perfect gift. We acknowledge the Artist who created the masterpiece.

When we recognize and esteem others – when we love our neighbor as we would wish to be loved – I believe that we in turn become more beautiful, more grace-filled, more purposeful. This is the ultimate pay-it-forward, not forced or contrived, but natural out of a confidence that allows us to see the best in others and celebrate it. I see around me those who are doing this daily, and these grace-driven people are some of the most beautiful I know.

Friend, you are a Person of Distinction. If I could personally give you an award today, I’d say thank you for using your gifts. Thank you for making things happen, day in and day out. Thank you for making our world more colourful. And thank you to the One who created you – He did a good job. You’re a masterpiece. Now it’s your turn – be someone else’s ‘frame’ today.