Not Meant For Praise

I’ve been reading a book named Holy Fools by Mathew Woodley. Overall a pretty decent book. Today and tomorrow I’ll highlight the best learning points in the book for me.

Being a worship leader and involved in worship ministry has many, many difficult parts. But I would say that the hardest is dealing with constant praise…even harder than all the negative comments from week to week. Look at American “celebrities”, most of them have at some point melted under all the attention that comes with being given so much attention and praise. The human mind is not meant to be endlessly praised. So how does this apply to leading worship at church? I think I’ve been told, “great worship”, “good job today”, “your singing really touched me” and etc…thousands of times. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, just using it as an example. I have to constantly remind myself that my gifts and talents are not my own, otherwise what was meant as an offering for God becomes a self absorbed blessing for myself.

Matthew Woodley says regarding this:

“In Matthew 6 Jesus warned about the dangers of what we could label ‘theatrical righteousness.’ According to Jesus, there’s a name for people who perform good deeds ‘to be admired by others’-they’re hypocrites…Spirituality becomes the arena to garner the praise of others rather than the altar to offer ourselves to God.”

Later on in the chapter he says something that anyone in ministry can relate to.

“I recently listened to someone tell me, ‘No offense, Pastor, but your sermons are shallow and I’m not being fed.” Later that afternoon, an engaged couple left my office hugging me and declaring, ‘You are the greatest man and the greatest preacher we’ve ever met.’ Who am I? Am I a ineffective, pathetic excuse for a disciple of Jesus? Or am I a hero, possibly the next inductee to the Ministry Hall of Fame?”

Now certainly thanking your worship leader or pastor for a good job, or critiquing their work is not a bad thing. Both are needed I would say. But when church leaders become focused more on the response than simply glorifying God something is wrong. I think this C.S. Lewis quote is the first way to end this post:

“Pleasure in being praised is not pride. The child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well, the woman whose beauty is praised by her lover, the saved soul to whom Christ says, ‘Well done,’ are pleased and ought to be. For here the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please.”

How do you avoid becoming focused more on the praise from the receivers than the Giver of the gift?