More than I should, I enjoy being acknowledged for something I’ve done. “Honey, look how much money I’ve saved us this week by planning out all our meals!” “Did you notice I set the coffee pot for you?” As soon as Neal replies, “Great job!” or “Wow, thanks!” I smile with satisfaction. Granted, I don’t prod anyone besides my husband for praise (at least not in an obvious way), but I realize I’ve got a problem with motives here. Ideally, I should serve because I can and should, without expecting a pat on the back. Ironically, most of the things I seek recognition for are things I’m supposed to be doing anyway. They’re part of my responsibilities. They’re not second-mile deeds. In order to curb my childish desire for praise, I tried an experiment. I would go an entire week without mentioning a single accomplishment on my part. I mentally geared up ahead of time, reminding myself that a mature Christian woman serves out of the goodness of her heart. How did it go? Well, let’s just say I found creative ways to seek praise. Crawling into bed at the end of Day One, I said, “Mmm, I love the smell of freshly washed sheets.” Neal dutifully replied, “Me, too. Good job, Babe.”
My youngest son, Carl, shared something with me this morning that reminded me again to work on this prideful trait of mine. He is studying ancient history, and told me the story of Draco. Draco, who lived around 600 B.C., was a strict and serious Athenian. He gained a reputation for harshness. He ordered that even the smallest offense of the law be punishable by death. People acknowledged him because he ruthlessly demanded it. One day, Draco went to the theatre, and when the public saw him, they threw their cloaks to him in order to honor him. Unfortunately, he suffocated under the mass number of cloaks. He was smothered in praise. What he desired most became his downfall.
Seeking praise gets to be a bad habit, an unattractive character trait. It’s a heart condition. It’s nothing like the service that our Lord demonstrated for us, and commands of us. We’re to serve in humility (John 13:1-17). We’re to serve one another in love (Gal. 5:13). We’re to serve with grace (1 Pet. 4:10). And when we serve, we are to desire that God gets the praise and is glorified (1 Pet. 4:11).
Prayer for today: Lord, help me renew my heart, seeking Your glory, not mine.