This is not about K-Mart.
I’m finally able to write again after an incredibly difficult final month of my semester. Classes got a little crazy for a while, and one of the first things to get dropped by the wayside in the midst of all my schoolwork was this blog. But now it’s over. After letting my mind cool down for nearly a week, I’m ready to get back to the writing that I really enjoy: this blog!
I’ve known what this post would be about for the last month. Ever since my last post (The Great Explorer) went up, I’ve felt something was missing from it. I’ve felt like I really missed the mark on what I was trying to get across, and I ended up just talking about my own personal ambitions and silly quests for glory. I forgot in that post that this blog, this whole life, isn’t about me, but about Christ. And so I want to fix that.
Quick recap if you didn’t read my last post: I like exploring. Ever since I was a little kid, the stories from history that have fascinated me the most have been those about Lewis and Clark, Alexander the Great, Magellan, Columbus, and the like. I’ve always wanted my own little taste of what it is like to discover something amazing. This extends to the present day, when exploration and discovery are two of the stronger forces pushing me forward into graduate and post-graduate studies.
But there is a problem in all that…It’s all about me. It’s all about wishing I could do something great and be remembered and appreciated by those who come after me. It’s all about insubstantial personal glory. There’s a reason I never feel satisfied when I do find something or do something really amazing: nothing satisfies but Jesus and bringing glory to him.
I have been confused about how I’m supposed to bring glory to God almost as long as I’ve wanted to be an explorer. When I was growing up, I would always be puzzled anytime someone would “give God the glory.” It looked to me like they had just done something that took a lot of skill, and then, while everyone applauded their amazing talent, they would toss God a bit of the glory they were getting.
I remember an NBA playoff game in 1999. Larry Johnson of the Knicks made a 4-point play at the end of the game to beat the Pacers. He celebrated with his normal celebration called the “Big L”, where he would form an “L” with his arms to represent “Larry.” He was running all over the court, making the Big L for his adoring fans in Madison Square Garden, celebrating how totally awesome he was. I was twelve. I didn’t like it.
LJ did an interview after the game, and he paused four times in the interview to give praise to God. (That’s what I thought when I was twelve, anyway. Turns out he was giving praise to Allah, and that this postgame video has some lasting notoriety on Youtube. But hey, I was twelve. I’m surprised I picked up on what I did.) When the interview was over, he made another lap around the court with the Big L raised above his head.
I knew this was a pretty bad example of what it means to give God the glory. It was clear that LJ was giving his god glory in word only, while he soaked up all the attention for himself. He REALLY enjoyed all the glory he got that night.
Ever since that night I’ve been asking how my life can bring glory to God without ever looking as ridiculous and shallow as LJ. The truth is, we can glorify God in everything we do, but often this isn’t going to be done in words. It will be done with a humble heart that wants to please God. It will be done in a heart full of joy because of the fact that God has created us and made us to do things like explore and shoot three-pointers. We aren’t supposed to be mediocre. We are supposed to be great because God has made us to be great. Excelling in life because of how God made us and empowers us brings glory to God and satisfaction to our hearts.
But sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I want to run around making a Big K with my arms so everyone notices how great I am. Sometimes that’s why I try to do well at school. Sometimes that’s why I want a PhD. Sometimes that’s why I write.
I want God to be glorified in my life, and that means I will pursue excellence in everything he calls me to do without worrying about flashing the Big K. I will write and run and explore because of the joy I get from doing the things that God created me to love doing.
1 Peter 4:10-11 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and power forever and ever. Amen.”
Don’t try to bring glory to God by telling everyone that is what you are doing (but if they ask definitely give him the credit.) If we only use words, if our hearts aren’t in it, I don’t think God or anyone else will be fooled. I think Peter would have us do it quietly, humbly, in the strength and abilities God gives us. This is a much more sincere way to praise God every day in everything we do. If I’m going to leave a mark on the world, I want to leave not my own mark but the mark of Christ.
Yeah, I’m going to keep exploring and hoping I discover something really awesome. I hope I discover the Ark of the Covenant this summer in Israel. (That’s not going to happen.) I hope that some of the things I write are used by God in the lives of other people. But most of all, I hope that anything I do points to Jesus and not to me. I hope I kill the Big K mentality.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t communicate what I want to say about this as well as Lecrae already has. So listen to this song. Read the lyrics. Bring God glory.