The National Football League is back into full swing. Clothing stores advertise fall specials, restaurants have happy hours, and flyers from grocery stores all include some kind of football image.
But most of all, I see this
I have seen games where a player makes a play and the fans as well as the player, go absolutely wild. Three minutes later the same player makes a bad play and the same fans attempt to boo him off the field.
As fans go, I believe we are fickle. A player catches a pass for a touchdown or runs through a field of the opposing team and the celebration begins because of a fantastic play. The pass is dropped or the player is tackled the fans say “Come on. Your a pro. That’s your job.” And the player will never let the fans miss what he considers a terrific effort–and just in case they do, well see the attached clips.
Now don’t get me wrong. Like those players, I too am partial to compliments. I watch for how many “likes” or followers I have here on WordPress. I appreciate when people tell me that the food I prepared tastes good. And when someone says at Bible class, “Boy that was a good question,” I walk out of there feeling pretty good.
The experts say that everyone needs to hear compliments. Studies show that for a good relationship with almost anyone, positive comments need to be given at a ratio of at least 5 to 1 over negatives. That’s not a bad goal to keep in mind.
But I know another expert and what he said may be rather unsettling. In Luke 17, Jesus tells a parable about a master and servant. In commenting from the servant’s perspective only, Jesus asks his disciples if the servant should expect special treatment because he did what he was told to do. He answered his own question with So also you, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants. We have only done what we were supposed to do.’ Luke 17:10.
That runs completely contrary to what we hear from today’s experts and does not sit too well with me. I mean, shouldn’t we recognize the work that others do? I can just imagine Jesus looking down on me and responding (these are only my words, not inspired):
John, just calm down. You can give others as many compliments as you want. That is a good thing. I know you believe that I came to die for all of your sins to make a way to heaven. I also know you want to serve as a way to say thank you. And that is so wonderful.
But, John, I want you to look closely at yourself. You are a husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, employee, church member, blogger and a few more. You use the gifts I gave to you. I also know it feels good when you are recognized for something you are doing well. And there is where you can get headed the wrong direction.
As with alcohol and other things in your life, John, your seeking after that good feeling lays a groundwork for trouble. It’s good you want to do things to use your talents to say thank you and serve others. But, when you use the “thank you’s” and “what a great job” and “likes” on Facebook and WordPress as a motivation to do more, that is what I am asking you to ponder long and hard.
When recognition and your own positive feelings are your motivation, then you have pushed me out of first place in your heart. You aren’t using your talents for me or even for the others in your life. It’s only for yourself. And you know what happens then.
Go back to what I told my disciples their attitude needs to be as they go about doing my work: “We are unworthy servants. We have only done what we were supposed to do.” John, using your talents, loving and serving others, and living to say thank you to me are wonderful things. And I expect you to keep it as a constant in your life because that is what my followers do. And even better, I will give you the strength to carry this out. Just please stop getting in the way.
If I want to see myself as a servant I need to have a mind like one. To serve others is a privilege when I am doing it for them and not for myself. Serving Jesus as a response for all he has done for me, now that is a gift. He was the perfect Servant. How wonderful to be able to follow in his footsteps so others can know about Jesus’ work. And I don’t think I need to do a special dance to get other people to notice–just spread the Word.
Thanks for spending a little time here. I hope you come back. I will wait you.
I shared this song before but it fits so well where my focus needs to be. Plus, for me, it is one of those that just sticks in my head.