Confessions of a Praise-o-holic

“…for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” John 12:43

Applause. Recognition. Accolades.

I crave kudos. As a writer, graphic designer and creative type, much of what I do is on display. Like a second grader during craft time, I retreat to my creative cubby wielding a keyboard and computer instead of crayons and construction paper. Hours, days or weeks later, I emerge proudly proclaiming, “Look what I made!”

Others aren’t usually as excited by my “masterpieces”  so I’ve learned to temper expectations and savor scraps of praise like gold stars on a spelling test. When I work as a professional, the money I earn speaks for itself. When I voluntarily use my skills as a ministry, payment comes in other ways. A nod in my direction, a “wow” or “well done” is typically all the affirmation I need to live another day—creatively speaking.

A while back I tackled a ministry project bigger than any I’d ever done. It challenged me to use all my creative talents, plus master some new ones as well. I poured myself into the project. I missed meals. I lost sleep. Weary, exhausted and emotionally spent I pressed on to completion and dragged the project across the finish line. And then I waited for the applause.

“Thanks, this is great,” they said. “We really appreciate it.”

Inside I railed, That’s it?! Do you realize what I’ve accomplished? Do you have any idea what it’s worth? Can you see the wounds this project inflicted? I want a parade, a marching band, a float with me on top, a banner proclaiming my greatness. (Perhaps I got a bit carried away.)

And that’s where the enemy spotted an opening. He planted seeds of grumbling. Seeds of discontent. And seeds of anger. My logical side cautioned against nurturing them, but the emotional side eagerly supplied the watering cans.

Lingering at the junction of bitterness and resentment, one morning I went for a walk to sort things out. As it happened, God sorted me out.

My thoughts boiled, Lord, I’m so hurt and angry.

“Did you do this project to bring glory to my name…or yours?” God countered.

But I worked so hard and they took it for granted.

“Didn’t I give you these gifts to use for my glory?”

It’s not fair!

“As my servant, don’t I ask you to pour yourself out like a drink offering?”

Don’t I deserve more?!

“Are you seeking the praise of man or the applause of heaven? Isn’t my praise enough for you?”

I didn’t want to be wrong, but knew I was. Humbled, I saw how clearly I craved the human and not the holy. But, how hard it was—and is—to let go. Holy Spirit, free me from this prison that’s choking my heart. Please rescue me because I can’t do it myself.

God didn’t “cure” me in that moment, but He infused peace where anger had been. He spoke truth I didn’t want to hear but needed to hear. He refocused my heart on the joy of serving Him. And that is enough.

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We all go through times when we give far more than we receive—as a parent, Bible study leader, ministry volunteer, spouse, caregiver or the like. Where do you feel unappreciated? Where has the enemy sown seeds of bitterness and discontent? Get honest with God, pray for the Holy Spirit to change your heart and listen for His reply.

Be blessed and be a blessing,

Kelli


Kelli Regan

I’m an ordinary girl in love with an awesome God. In my quest for adventure outside the everyday I've experienced God in remarkable ways…and in remarkable places. Together we’ve trekked inside the walls of a maximum security men’s prison, to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, into post-earthquake Haiti, into the hearts of beautiful brothers and sisters in Christ and so much more. God’s blessed me with my lifetime traveling companion, my husband Dan, and our two children, aka adventurers-in-training. I share insights into my adventures both big and small. I hope they shine the light of God's awesomeness into your life and spark a desire to venture into life outside the ordinary.

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9 Comments

  1. I grew up with my mom and grandmother. – a generation that really did not “praise” like we do today with our children. When they did cheer me on, it was quiet, simple and over in a second. Then I had 5 sons – and believe me – there’s no cheering or encouraging words coming my way. But there are going theres. It’s my love language – my hug language – but not everyone values it the way I do. When I realized people’s love language (how they hug and cheer) and realized that not all speak my language – it really freed me – and allowed me to find all the other different ways people encourage – without words. Inward satisfaction without an outward cheer team is probably a trait of all great people – and there are a lot of great people you never see in the media! It sounds like you are one of those people – stealth greatness – cheering liked, but, sigh, not needed:)

    You blessed me today! Thank you!!!

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  2. I can SO relate to this – so easy to take our motivation from the praise people give us – but that is NOT what God wants. Thanks for the reminder!

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  3. Be blessed, as you bless.

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  4. This was a good devotional for me to read today – thank you for putting my heart back on the right track!

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  5. “human over the holy…” that will preach, sweet one! For the past couple of months, I’ve intentionally taken on a project at our new church–one of revamping an upstairs SS room to be used for the children. There are no children’s ministries at our church… none. Not even SS. Thus, I decided to take it on, if for no one else then for my own children. I resented this in the beginning a bit, but as time has gone on, I’ve gotten on board and enjoyed my foray back into the classroom (I have a couple of education degrees and done precious little with them).

    I don’t imagine anyone will notice much of a difference… our congregation is older and hasn’t been in the upstairs for years! But I do believe that God is pleased, watching every bulletin board planned and created, and in the end, I know I’m being obedient to the “small things”. God will take care of the rest.

    Great post, Kelli. I wish we could work together on ministry projects!

    peace~elaine

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  6. Good grief, Kelli! All of the above? I’ve been having a pity party lately too. Thanks for convicting me tonight. I needed it. Hope all is well in your world!

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  7. Thank you for your honesty and transparency! It has blessed me and I pray it will influence the motives in why I do something. I know the cravings all too well.

    Blessings,
    Janis

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  8. You’ve been reading my mind again!

    I’ve had a number of experiences along these lines; times when my expectations and reality were at cross-purposes. I realized how important it had become to me to be “significant”, though how – exactly – I’d know when I was that might change with the seasons. It was no small thing, either. It plagued me for years. Sometimes it still does.

    I don’t know what happened to change my outlook, but I certainly know Who had a hand in it. It began with that still small voice, and something like this: “You are not a human doing. You aer a human being. Be content with that.” It’s grown louder, and more meaningful from there.

    Great post!

    Kathleen

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  9. Wow, as another member of the praise-o-holic club I just loved it when you said this, “I didn’t want to be wrong, but knew I was. Humbled, I saw how clearly I craved the human and not the holy.”

    Right.on.the.money girl, right on!

    Thank you so much for sharing so honestly, you have rattled me cages and He has whispered in my ear, see, that’s you too!

    Humbled.
    In awe.
    Thankful for His grace & mercy.

    Moved by your post…thanks, Melissa 🙂

    Reply

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