Have you ever come up with a great idea, executed the perfect plan and then waited with anticipation for the deafening applause from the audience….only to hear nothing? I mean zilch, crickets chirping, not even a courtesy clap. It doesn’t matter if your audience is thousands of followers on social media or your two-year-old, it stings when your brilliant idea falls flat on others.
Ask anyone who runs a business and puts effort into their social media feeds how it feels to craft what you think is the perfect post and then see it get 4 likes. I mean, I blame Facebook algorithms to save my pride, but is that really what’s happening? Or how about that totally awesome Pinterest-worthy lunch you just created for your kids using raisins as ants and marshmallows as snowballs? They wanted grilled cheese instead (geez mom, how did you not know that).
Those may be silly (although real life) examples, but the point is when we put effort into something for someone else, it hurts when it’s not appreciated.
I wrestle with the demon of recognition daily. The introvert in me hates it, but the person publishing a book and running a foundation demands it. The internal struggle is real even when I know the attention is actually for the good of others. Or is it? Sometimes I need a gut and heart-check to make sure my intentions are where they need to be.
God-centered vs. God-centric
Thank you Google for the quick confirmation that my definitions were correct because when this thought first entered my brain I had to think “is that the same thing?” It is not. Being “centered” and “centric” are two very different approaches, but can be easily confused with one another. Hence, the google checks this morning.
Some quick definitions: If I am a business owner who is customer-centric, I’m going to focus on customers that can provide a lot of value to me. Those that have the means to buy my products get special treatment. Conversely, if I am customer-centered, I am paying great care and attention to all of my customers, no matter what they can do for my company.
The same way that if I am God-centric, He’s really only the focus for the big stuff. I may go to church, recite some bible verses and know the lyrics to most of Lauren Daigle’s new album, but life is mostly about me and what I can do.
Being God-centered is putting Him at the center of everything, not just the situations where I could use His help or desire a specific outcome. God is the focus of it all.
As I meditated on this with regards to my own life, God made me acutely aware of the areas that I lean towards God-centric rather than God-focused. My children (yes), my marriage (yep), my work (ouch). That’s my whole life! But I was reminded that my flesh makes it impossible for me to be God-focused 100% of the time. I have pride and I’m impatient. It takes hard work to fight against those natural tendencies and to replace me with Him as the focus.
I prefer to be in control of my life. Schedules, checklists, calendars: all necessary in order to make things go according to plan. Lord help the person who tries to alter those plans once they are in place. Just ask my husband.
Me and He
So what exactly does this have to do with the examples from the beginning? “Come on, Sara,” you’re thinking. “First you’re talking about appreciation, then you’re talking about making God the focus. You’re all over the place today!” Actually, that’s the conversation I’m having with myself. Sometimes I’m typing and the Holy Spirit takes a turn. He brings it around somehow.
Those examples above are perfect ways to demonstrates our flesh tendencies to seek approval and say “Look what I did! Isn’t it great?!” When really the message we need to be sending is “Look what God did!”
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
Lord, help me to remain in YOU as I go about my day. Help me to resist the temptation to declare my own work, but instead be focused on what you did to bring me to this point. Thank you for saving me every day I have breath. Let my work be glorifying to you.
[Maybe that doesn’t work as well with the pre-schoolers lunch because face it, you just can’t please them no matter what you do. I’ll tell you what they won’t: You’re pretty awesome!]