When will I stop needing a trophy? I think one of the main reasons big sporting events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl appeal to us is that we never really quit hoping for a prize for all of our hard work. Not into sports? How about “The Voice” or “Dancing with the Stars”? Do you get wrapped up in the tales of struggle and final gratification? I know I do – however, there’s more to the thrill that comes with victory than the hardware. Although I can’t relate to winning an Olympic medal or a shiny tennis cup, I can imagine that those souvenirs are cherished and prominently displayed – at least for a while. But what drives competitors to strive is what’s BEHIND the award. Recognition. Appreciation. Acknowledgement. Those are the trophies I want.
It sounds so immature to put it on paper. I thought at the age of plenty-nine I would have outgrown the need for a pat on the back, but I still crave it. And it doesn’t make me feel any better (maybe worse) that the things I want acknowledgement for are godly pursuits! I want to be told that I am strong. I want to be seen as a good mother. I want my talents to be recognized in the church. I want to be a leader and to have my words published to touch hundreds or thousands of women. Yuck. It almost physically hurts to type out such selfish desires. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a great parent or wanting to use my writing to lead others closer to Christ. Sin creeps in because the desires of my heart don’t line up with His, even if the deeds of my hands are good. This longing to be noticed interferes with my human relationships when jealousy rears its ugly head. How can I be happy for your accolades when I don’t have any for myself? And any type of sin drives a wedge between a perfect God and me. Scripture tells us over and over again that glory belongs to the Lord. How can He use me to bring Him glory when I am secretly (or not so secretly, now) craving it for myself? Colossians 3:23 commands, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men”. (NASB) What I must get through my thick head is that God gives the true rewards – the best rewards – not my family or my friends. (“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NASB)
Jesus gives this warning in the first verse of Matthew chapter 6: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” (NASB) Further reading in chapter 6 explains that when we seek to receive the honor of men, the praise of men is ALL we receive. God gives no more rewards for these deeds. So… I keep working on me. I confess this short-coming to God and seek His forgiveness. I spend my time focusing on my Heavenly Father. The more I learn about how awesome He is, the more I want others to know of Him – not me. I spend my time studying and meditating on the things God says about me and shifting my focus from what people say. And I pray for more humility and whole-hearted devotion to Him. So maybe someday, by the grace of God, I’ll stop seeking those trophies.