Using God For Our Own Advancement

This is a follow up post from a question from Mark over at:

He wondered what I or Henri Nouwen was getting at in my post “The Temptation To Be Relevant.”

I posted an excerpt from Henri Nouwen’s book In The Name of Jesus. It is a book geared toward Christian leaders, but applies to any believer. Here I will further explain what I think of Christians seeking fame and glory.

Most of the time we don’t admit to it. But what starts out as our effort to use the gifts God has given us can subtley turn into a venture in making a name for ourselves all in the name of Jesus. Being famous or well-known doesn’t imply that one is a glory robber (robbing glory from God) and that one is seeking relevance at all costs. However, somtimes it is the case (and actually probably more often than we like to admit) that life becomes almost solely about the advancement of our own reputation and influence and not the advancement of the Kingdom of God although we might tell ourselves and others that’s the case.

How do we know? Well, that’s what silence and solitude is for. It is what close relationships are for. Many times even non-believers see it as clear as day, they see it often before Christians do. We need others to speak truth to us and we need to listen to it. We need to know when we start to turn phony.

Perhaps we no longer spend time in prayer or with God. We minister without the life of God coursing through us. Maybe just trickling through us. Ministry becomes a profession. Pastors, worship leaders, and other ministry staff aren’t walking with Christ but are still able to give a performance. It can happen to any one of us. And that is when ministry becomes about us. We care not so much about advancing God and his ways, but of advancing our own notoriety.

 Seek God not relevance. Relevance will follow.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t do our work, or don’t do it well, or seek new avenues of ministry. It means our first aim isn’t to be relevant. Our first aim is to follow Christ. I truly believe that if we follow him, he’ll provide the audience and the people who are to hear/read/be ministered to.

Let God bestow glory on us. Let him promote us as we are faithful to him. He will. Do not Peter and James tell us, “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up?” (I Peter 5:6, James 4:10).

Thank you for the question.

Here is further explanation from the late and wise Andrew Murray:

1 thought on “Using God For Our Own Advancement

  1. This is a good reminder! Jesse and I work with the worship team at our church, and this is definitely something that we find ourselves needing to consciously direct our thoughts to often.

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