Ok, ok...two posts in one night is a bit much, but I have been so under par in publishing for quite some time now and this is part of making up for it.
I was blessed this morning to have a very meaningful and insightful conversation with a good friend of mine at Panera Bread of of highway 70 in Raleigh. The Lord used this conversation to elicit and clarify some character aspects which He is still refining in my life. Most notably among these character traits that need work was the desire for recognition, which is really just a form of pride.
The idea of being someone lesser known has never appealed to me. In fact, I have always desired to be well known in a positive light. The respect of and acknowledgment of others is something I have craved. As ashamed as I am to admit it, despite numerous sermons that God has thrown my way (not to mention personal conviction), these are still items which I have desired to hear in my ears. The sights of crowds and the visions of multitudes all lined up to listen to me are still sometimes clearly seen in my mind's eye. Yet what is the core hope here?
I have often sought to compare myself with preachers and other leaders in the church whom I would consider "successful." As pathetic as it really is, I have even looked for similarities between myself and such men thinking that perhaps those similarities will constitute in similar results in my own life and ministry. Imagine if I spent this time in the word instead.
I shared this vain pursuit of mine with a wise man, and this wise man gave an apt reply. Essentially, he told me that more than likely, none of these "successful" men began with the dream of having a mega church or measures of accomplishment by the world's standards. It was more probable that they just wanted to be obedient to Christ and followed through on it. That is the calling that all believers must really pursue.
Now there is a slight danger in pursuing obedience with the rewards we want in the back of our minds. I have certainly been guilty of this in the past. Yet we must remember that there is no greater reward that Christ and His Holy Spirit which the Father gives His children. To imagine that some success would be better is to have not seriously experienced the presence of God...period, much less on a consistent basis.
One may object (as I myself have at times) that it is ok to have dreams to hope for certain events and actions to take place. Of course it certainly is. The issue is the motive that drives us. Is the motive to glorify God through fulfilling the great commandments (Matt. 22:37-40) as well as the great commission (Matt. 28:19-20)? Wonderful. Yet we must take a look and ask the LORD to refine us if it is anything other than this. This is because motives are like a foundation; they are the fuel that propels the vehicle. Any fuel other than that given by the Holy Spirit will at best lead to a break down and a definitive crash off course at worst. May the fire of God purify His people! Amen.
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