Where's My "Atta-Girl"?

by Lynn Cowell February 16, 2018
“When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves — praise the LORD! Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will praise the LORD, the God of Israel, in song.” Judges 5:2-3 (NIV)
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You’ve just completed a major project or prepared a simple dinner. At the end of all your work and effort, there was silence. No applause. No thank-you. Not even an “atta-girl.”

How does that make you feel?

Honestly, when I find myself in that situation, I wish I could say I’m fine. More than fine, since I’m doing all I do for the Lord alone. I’d like to think I don’t need others’ recognition.

Unfortunately, I’m not all the way there yet. This “getting-past-performing” girl still gets stuck if the thanks or compliments never come.

I am so grateful for a woman like Deborah who models what it looks like to be a woman who doesn’t have to have the pats on the back. I encourage you to read this strong woman’s story found in Judges 4:1-16. God chose Deborah to fill a military leadership role in the Bible. She was the only woman to fulfill not only that role, but she also served as judge over all the Israelites. (This was in the days before the nation of Israel had a king.) Co-leading an army of 10,000 against an army with 900 chariots, Deborah, together with Barak, defeated the enemy.

Following this major victory, we read Deborah’s proclamation in Judges 5:2-3, “When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves — praise the LORD! Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will praise the LORD, the God of Israel, in song.”

After such an amazing accomplishment, I don’t hear Deborah singing her own praises. No, not here, not in the verses before nor in the verses after. In fact, not only does Deborah not shine the light on her own success, but centuries later when the New Testament book of Hebrews was written, her name is actually missing.

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 11:32-33, NIV).

Here in the Hall of Faith, Deborah’s co-leader is listed; meanwhile Deborah, a very important playmaker, is left out.

If Deborah could somehow have seen this New Testament passage, how do you think she would have responded?

After looking closely at her life, I think I can say Deborah would not be like me, wondering where her appreciation was. She obeyed God and did what she was called to do. Accolades and applause were not part of the package.

I see in Deborah that the confident woman doesn’t need appreciation. Deborah didn’t have to have an “atta-girl” from anyone but God. She continually pointed to God, never needing to draw attention to herself.

A confident woman doesn’t crave other people’s approval because she already has God’s. When we know we have His approval, our craving for other people’s approval decreases.

I’d love to say, “That’s me!” So self-assured, I don’t need reassurance from another. I’m not quite there yet; maybe you’re not, either. But, as we continue to learn about faith from women like Deborah, we can keep moving closer to becoming secure women with Christ-like confidence.

Lord, I so want to be a woman whose whole purpose is to shine light on You. Build in me a confidence — built on You and Your approval of me — that no longer craves or needs the applause of others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (NIV)

Psalm 115:1, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.” (NASB)


For more on what it means to walk in confidence, grab a copy of Lynn Cowell’s Bible study, Make Your Move: Finding Unshakable Confidence Despite Your Fears and Failures. There’s also a companion 6-week DVD teaching available.


Stop by Lynn’s blog today, where she’s giving away a confidence-building bundle including a copy of Make Your Move, a journal and a “Hearing the Voice of God” prayer devotional by Proverbs 31 Ministries.


When you have served well, made a hard choice or gone above and beyond, what’s the reaction of your heart if no one notices?

The next time you don’t receive the recognition you longed for, what steps can you take to settle the stirring in your heart?

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© 2018 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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