November 15, 2016
Should You Strive For Greatness?
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)
Friend to Friend
In my spare time I help coach our high school volleyball team. Let me rephrase that, because I do not have spare time. Three months a year I choose to invest daily in the lives of young female athletes who play volleyball at the high school where my children attend.
One of the games we play in practice is called Queen of the Court, the goal of which is simple: gain and keep the lead. Dominate. Be the best and protect your turf at all costs. Serve more aggressively, pass more accurately, set more strategically, and hit harder than your opponents. It is a fast-paced drill of skill where only the strong survive.
My life sometimes feels like a game of Queen of the Court.
I strive, set goals, create a game plan, and execute the strategy. I long to be my best (a good thing), but at times my goal changes from wanting to experience all of God’s best for me to wanting to be THE best (not so good). Look at me, everyone! Check out my people, my position, my possessions, my trophies-of-greatness...
I have to check my heart.
Am I striving to be my best in order to make the most of what God has given me—or because I want to impress others and be at the top of the heap? Those are two very different questions.
Too often I become fixated on aggressively spiking balls on the volleyball court of my ego, my family, my church, my community, my country. (My goodness!) To make it worse, I throw on an invisible jersey and play a game of Who-Is-The-Greatest? against the people around me. Aren’t we so good at that? We think:
• I would be incredible at that position if the boss would just stop giving allthe best assignments to other people.
• If I use this decorating idea from Pinterest, my house will be the envy of every woman in the neighborhood.
We want to be seen as the best.
We want to be the best employee, work for the biggest Fortune 500 companies, and attend the largest mega church with the most popular pastor. We want to parent the smartest kids, serve on the most important committees, and dangle on the arm of a hunky husband. Our shiny pursuits and performances become our social media statuses the moment they happen.
Can I get a witness?
We boast. We brag. We strive. We show. We want. We need. As I think of these things a hush falls over my heart. Conviction. Embarrassment. Because I often wrongly perceive life as being all about ME.
We live in a world filled with people who are famous for being famous and consumed with the greatness of them-selfies. My last name might not be Kardashian, but on any given day my heart can house just as much pride in how many likes my posts and tweets get.
Let me tell you a little secret: Christian pride is just as ugly as Entertainment Tonight pride. We Jesus girls tend to drape it subtly over our modest-is-hottest shoulders and wear it with a smile. Because our sin isn’t as scandalous as tabloid sin, right?
Lord, forgive us.
We all want to be great. And that’s not a bad thing in and of itself. We need to be people of excellence. Jesus told a story, the Parable of the Talents, where He taught that each of us is responsible to wisely use what we are given (Matthew 25:14-30). God expects us to use our talents, personalities, gifts, and energy in productive ways. The problem comes in our motivation. If we are striving for excellence so that others will be oh-so-impressed, then we are acting out of pride. Instead of elevating our Lord, we are elevating ourselves.
Lord, forgive us.
The fire of conviction warms me...bends my knees.
Queen of the Court is a useful volleyball drill, but it is not a game that Christians should be playing. If I really want to have all the impact God intends for me to have, then I need to be far more concerned with the greatness of God than with the greatness of Gwen. The. End.
Peter reminds us of this in his letter to the believers in the early church. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5b-6, NIV)
Our job: be humble before God and to others. Stop playing the greatness game.
God’s job: to lift us up as He sees fit, when He sees fit… all to elevate Himself.
Dear Lord, Please help me to focus on your greatness instead of my own. Purify my heart and be glorified in and through me today.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
How would you split the percentage of time you focus on vain pursuits versus fame-of-Jesus pursuits? What percentage would you like that to be?
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s post is an excerpt from Gwen Smith’slatest book, I Want I ALL. This book includes a Bible Study Guide right in the back of the book; no extra purchase required. You will love that it’s easy to read yet contains compelling and challenging content. You'll connect with the stories, probably dust off a few heart dreams, think bigger thoughts of God, laugh and smile a lot, search your soul, and even cry a little ... because each page lovingly directs you to the personal grace and truth of JESUS. (Get a FREE Downloadable “I Want It All” COLORING and JOURNAL book that’s the perfect companion to the book when you sign up to receive her blog!)
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Originally published Tuesday, 15 November 2016.