I once had to introduce a distinguished speaker whose curriculum vitae was many pages long. He had many accomplishments and he seemed to quite enjoy people giving him a long introduction. He had received the nation’s top honors and he deserved them. He belonged to many prestigious societies; he was an honorary physician to the Queen, a United Nations’ celebrity, a humanitarian, a Hall of Famer and a globe-trotting speaker. Throughout his lifetime, he had made quite a name for himself. On more than one occasion, I sensed he deeply enjoyed the attention he received.

But isn’t ‘making a name for yourself’ what life is all about? You sure don’t want to be a nobody. We want people to be proud of us and we want to feel good about our own accomplishments. But there’s a very fine line between being satisfied that you are doing what God intends you to do, and being proud of what you are doing.

Human beings struggle with pride. All levels of society encourage us to promote ourselves, be a somebody, make a name for ourselves and don’t shun the limelight. If you get a chance to make a name for yourself – grab it!

The human desire to ‘make a name for yourself’ has a dark history. It’s associated with human pride, arrogance and independence – even rebellion against God. God swiftly intervened and squashed a massive construction project in Genesis 11. The motivation for building the huge tower of Babel was encapsulated in these words:

They said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:4

God squashed their arrogant plans and showed them how small they really were.

Absalom is remembered for his pride and rebellion. He’s another example of one who tried to make a name for himself, so people would never forget him. He built a pillar and called it after himself: “Absalom’s Place.” 2 Samuel 18:18. The word for ‘place’ is ‘human hand’ – an ancient metaphor for human strength and power.

One of the characteristics of this age is that people would be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters and proud. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

The unrelenting drive to excel academically, professionally or financially – the push to make a name for yourself by having the biggest home on the street or the nicest car, the biggest truck or your name mentioned with increasing frequency in the circles you aspire to reach – your desire to be a ‘somebody’ is not – is not – heaven’s philosophy.

Unfortunately, it has become so deeply engrained in our thinking, we can mistakenly believe it’s in perfect harmony with God’s plan for our lives. But abandoning all other interests and singularly focusing on our success is no more the will of God than cheating God is the will of God.

My Christian life should not be about making a name for myself but about magnifying His Name. My plans, strategies and desires should revolve around honoring the Name of Christ – not my own name.

Am I seeking the limelight? Am I trying to steal the show? Am I trying to get people to notice me? Am I trying to impress people, so they will see how good I am? Is it crass self-promotion to feed my ego or am I submitting to the Lord’s will for my life and doing the best that I can do, so that God in all things may be glorified. (1 Peter 4:11, 2 Thessalonians 1:12)

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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