I wonder how many of us believe it is our effort, intelligence, and discipline that produced whatever success we have achieved at work or elsewhere in our lives? How easy it is to forget that God equipped us with whatever advantages paved our way to success. And how often do we fail to fully appreciate or acknowledge God’s role in our success and neglect to credit Him for our accomplishments? Instead, many of us convince ourselves we earned it on our own.
Take a moment to reflect on recent successes at work, in school, or in life. Have you given God all the glory for your achievements; for instance, when you deliver a great presentation, close a big deal, get promoted, receive a plum new assignment, perform successful surgery, win a difficult legal case, create a brilliant marketing campaign, earn an ‘A’ on a difficult exam, obtain employee-of-the-month honors, or receive a favorable annual review?
In these day-to-day wins we may be tempted to credit ourselves with our success. But the apostle Paul highlights the error in such thinking. He rhetorically asks, “Who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7, NKJV).
Paul reminds us that every attribute we possess reflects God’s design. Every aspect of our character, every advantage in our physical attributes and mental acumen, and every behavioral trait comes from God. He created us uniquely and equipped us with every characteristic we enjoy. Take a moment to meditate on what that includes:
– Your intelligence, work ethic, and attention to detail;
– Your passion for quality, ability to motivate others, and skill with numbers;
– Your speed, strength, and agility;
– Your analytic ability, artistic skill, and creativity;
– Your relentless energy to work harder than others;
– Your optimistic and engaging personality that makes networking easy;
– Even your sense of humor.
God alone designed and constructed every strength, skill, and ability. He fashioned you, your personality, and your passions uniquely. And He did this for one specific purpose: His glory. He desires we follow His plan, honor Him in all we do, recognize His work in us, and testify of Him in all we accomplish.
That’s right. God has a unique plan for you. Isn’t that awesome? What an incredible thought to contemplate—that you are His creation and He has a precise plan for your life. That fact reveals an incredible truth: you are special to our Creator.
So what does God think when we take credit for the gifts and abilities He provides us? How does God view our pride when it exalts itself and claims credit for our success and His work? Such arrogance constitutes a rebellion against God because it reflects an idolization of self. By asserting that our skills and talents are a product of our effort, we establish ourselves as lord. Every time we redirect God’s glory to ourselves we fuel the vanity that drives that dangerous perspective.
Moreover, when we employ these gifts, abilities, and attributes to advance our own agenda and ignore His unique plan for us, we reject His sovereignty. When we use our talents to pursue our goals, we reject His Lordship. Such behavior deems our plan superior to God’s. But such a view is born of conceit. In reality, God calls us to use our skills to accomplish His agenda, not pursue our own benefit.
I encourage you to set aside time this week to take inventory of all the strengths and attributes God has bestowed on you. Make a list that includes innate skills as well as personality traits and behavioral attributes. Offer Him thanks for those gifts and let Him know you want them used for His glory – in accordance with His plan. In doing so you’ll not only strengthen your relationship with God, you’ll also find yourself growing in humility and less focused on personal gain.