How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Let’s face it. We all love a pat on the back. We all love hearing from another person what a great job we did. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually important to share with someone our gratitude for a job well done, or for an act that touch our heart and changed our day. It’s important for us to get out of ourselves, see the goodness in others, and be grateful for one another’s gifts. These kinds of affirmations strengthen our relationships and build a community. The problem comes when we define ourselves by the praise of others.
God has created each of us with unique gifts and talents and responsibilities that we are to share with our community, our world. We need to realize, however, that sometimes what we are called to share will not always readily be accepted. For example, go back in your mind; you are 16 years old again. Your parents are taking away your car keys because you stayed out until 3:00 in the morning when you were supposed to be home by midnight. You’re not happy with them are you? It’s not likely that the thoughts going through your head are “thanks Mom and Dad for loving me so much that you are willing to risk my anger just so I learn to behave in a way that will keep me safe.” Or how about when a police officer pulls you over for speeding are you going to thank him for keeping the roads safe? The truth is that what is for our highest good does not always feel praiseworthy. What we need to share with the world may not always be well received. This is why if we seek only the praise of others, our egos will be in charge, and we will miss the truth of why we are here, the truth that can only come from God.
God has a purpose for each and every one of us – we were not put upon this earth to take up space. But, often this purpose evades us. Spending time in communion with God, through prayer, quiet, worship, meditation will help us discover the path that God has for us. We will know in our hearts when we are following God’s lead. The awareness may indeed come from an affirmation of another, but the knowing will come from the heart; for that is where God speaks.
So today, let’s focus on our hearts. Let’s try to hear the praise of God from within and do our work from there. Let’s accept the praise of others with grace, and seek the praise of God with fervor.