Have you ever been tempted to pursue prestige to feel good about yourself? In this day and age, we have been programmed to believe that success means making it big and having a name people know. If you can’t get a record deal, audition for American Idol. If you can’t land a role with Universal Studios, try out for Survivor.
I know, those are extreme examples that don’t apply to most. But we all have a legitimate need for significance in our lives and desire to see it met one way or another. This isn’t a problem. Where the problem lies is when we chart a course for our lives seeking self-glory.
The difference between the Babelites saying, “Let us make a name for ourselves,” (Genesis 11:4) and God saying, “I will bless you and make your name great,” (Genesis 12:2) was the attitude of the heart. The Babelites sought self-glory; Abraham sought the glory of God.
If you wonder if you are seeking a name for yourself or for Christ, ask yourself these questions:
1. Are you looking for recognition from God or man?
It is so easy to base security on the way other people view us. As said above, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be known by people. What is wrong is when we are driven by that motivation instead of by the heart of God.
“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly,” (Matthew 6:6).
- God is glorified by people who want to be known by Him in the secret place.
2. Do you view the people you lead as projects or as family?
Years ago, I was getting out of my car at Borders Bookstore and the Lord spoke in that still, small voice. “The kingdom of God is in relationships.” That was such a simple, yet deep concept.
But isn’t it true? The first institution God created in this world was family, not church or an organization. There is nothing greater you can accomplish in the kingdom than loving God and the one in front of you (Matthew 22:37-39).
When we view people as projects, we are more focused on our success with them than we are on how they will benefit from our service. But love “does not seek its own,” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Love doesn’t notch its belt with other people’s victories; it rejoices in the Lord with them.
- God is glorified when we love others selflessly.
3. Are you more focused on how your followers can promote your vision or how you can promote their growth?
If we want to be more like Jesus, we must take His perspective on matters. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many,” (Mark 10:45).
Do you need credit for God’s good works or are you satisfied with Jesus getting the glory?
Sometimes I get tempted to be jealous when God uses someone else to do something that I wanted to do. They get to share the testimony that I wanted to have. They get the promotion that I thought I deserved. Etc.
But I have to ask myself, who really deserves the glory, the vessel or God? A vessel (you and me) deserve no glory. We are just “lucky” we get to witness God.
- God is glorified when we can celebrate someone else’s success.
4. Are you building your legacy or the fame of Jesus?
We all get to leave behind a legacy in the kingdom. (See 1 Corinthians 3:12-15.) But the best legacy is to be known by God as a “laid down lover.”
“The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne,” (Revelation 4:10).
Those closest to God’s throne are they who cast their crowns before His feet.
- God is glorified when we surrender our right to be known before Him.
Influence is a gift from God. When we steward it well, we can bring great glory to His name. But God isn’t looking for famous people; He is looking for devoted people. That is where the true glory is.