We want people to see us at our best. We want others to recognize our hard work. We want to be appreciated for the things that we do, and we want others to think what we are doing matters.
And those basic human needs for acceptance are okay – as long as we keep our desire to be appreciated and acknowledged in balance with humility and focus.
However, the minute we begin thriving on the compliments from others, needing the thrill of recognition to keep us motivated, and longing to be in control of things, then the enemy can begin to do his best work.
Sometimes being a praise junkie is not even our fault, but instead, a by-product of the world we live in. Our culture promotes success, achievement, fame and recognition as one of the most important things in life.
That philosophy is so far removed from what God says is important. In the Old Testament the key definition of success or being blessed, is to have a solid relationship with God and obey His instructions. In the New Testament Jesus tells us that His view of success is when our lives are transformed through our love for Him.
But due to the fallen world we live in, we sometimes forget Gods view of success, and inadvertently allow circumstances of life, and the culturally-bred hunger for recognition, to become an addiction.
For example, if someone grew up in an environment where their parents made them feel more loved and accepted if they succeeded in everything from sports to grades, then that person would be more likely to be addicted to praise.
If someone works in a competitive environment, where the only way to get ahead is to do whatever it takes to stand out from the crowd and solicit recognition as much as possible, then that person is more likely to be addicted to praise.
For a serious competitive athlete, who knew they always had to try to be the best to get ahead, they may have become addicted to praise.
Even something as normal as motherhood, where we long for our children to be the cutest, best-behaved and most successfull offspring around, can cause us to have an unhealthy obsession with recognition or praise.
All of us want to savor a compliment – it just feels good!!
However if/when we realize that we may have a physical or emotional need for praise in order to feel good about ourselves, just like the brave woman who confided to me that she held today’s lie in her heart, God may be convicting us to refocus as well.
Unfortunately if we do not act on that conviction, our innate or culturally groomed need for recognition can eventually roll over into our spiritual service and our personal faith.
The enemy works hard to take our focus off of God, and onto ourselves, in any way he can – in our personal and work lives, but even in our service to Christ.
Philippians 2:5 in the New Living Translation says “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
Simply put, this verse is gently imploring us to have a servants heart. A heart that is not only willing to serve, but willing to do it anonymously, or without recognition. A heart that desires to serve God in whatever way He calls us to do, even if our service goes unnoticed and unappreciated.
A servants heart that is focused on glorifying God because of who He is, and not because of who we are or what we think we have to offer.
A heart that knows that todays lie – is simply that – a lie, from the enemy who longs to watch us lose focus, and stumble in our faith.
A heart that longs to leave a legacy of Christ, not a resume of service for others to marvel over.
You see, when we think of our servanthood in terms of our legacy, it helps to give us a new perspective about why we are serving, and Who we are serving. It also prompts us to do some remembering….
Remembering that we are serving a God who does not need us, but allows us the privilege of being a part of His work, can quickly help us to embrace humility and thankfulness.
Remembering that God is for us, and does not rate our existence in terms of worldly success, nor expect us to acheive perfection, removes the pressure of trying to impress or please others.
Remembering that God loves us unconditionally, regardless of what other people think, and with or without the praise of others, eliminates our fear of failing, and allows us to serve God with a heart full of gratitude and love.
For anyone struggling with being a praise junkie, remembering these truths, and praying over them, is vital in beginning the process of refocusing our hearts.
On Monday, I will share a possible next step for pushing past the emotional need that we all have for worldly praise, and how to begin allowing God to fill that tender place with the true love and acceptance that only He can give.
Until then, let’s focus on cultivating a servants heart, by starting with a lot of “remembering”. Smiles.