Craving Recognition: A Disease with Many

The following is a quote by Charles Spurgeon from his book Words of Counsel for All Leaders, Teachers, and Evangelists. The closing questions and comments are my own. I pray you will find this edifying.

The resolve to do all as unto the Lord will elevate you above that craving for recognition, which is a disease with many. It is a sad fault in many Christians that they cannot do anything unless the whole world is told about it. The hen in the farmyard lays an egg and feels so proud of the achievement that she must cackle about it. Everybody must know about that one poor egg, until the whole country resounds with the news. Some professors are like this; their work must be published, or they can do no more. “Here have I,” said one, “been teaching in the school for years, and nobody ever thanked me for it. I believe that some of us who do the most are the least noticed, and what a shame it is.” But if you have done your service unto the Lord, you would not talk like that, or we would suspect you of having other motives. The servant of Jesus will say, “I do not want human notice. I did it for the Master; He noticed me, and I am content. I tried to please Him, and I did please Him. Therefore, I ask no more, for I have gained my end. I seek no praise from men, for I fear the breath of human praise could tarnish the pure silver of my service.” If you seek the praise of men, you will in all probability fail in the present, and certainly, you will lose it in the future. For do I now persuade men or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the slave of Christ (Galatians 1:10). . . . How little we ought to care about the opinions and criticisms of our fellow men when we recall that He who made us what we are and helps us by His grace to act our part will not judge us after the manner in which men complain or flatter, but will accept us according to the sincerity of our hearts. If we feel, “I was not working for you; I was working for God,” we shall not be as wounded by our neighbors’ remarks.

Here are a few good questions for self-reflection in light of Spurgeon’s wise words :

1) Who are you now working for and seeking to please in your ministry?

2) Does the hidden approval of God satisfy you? Or are you striving to get thousands of Twitter followers and hundreds of “likes” on your Facebook and Instagram ministry posts?

3) When you preach or teach, do you feel an irresistable urge to post something about it on social media?

4) How do you respond when you receive criticism in your ministry?

It is very easy in our present day and age after a long day of ministry to log onto social media and either pat ourselves on the back or seek others to do so for us. It provides a short term rush to see the approving comments and likes for our efforts come pouring in. However, in Matthew 6:1, Jesus warns us against such displays when he says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”

Dear brethren, let me encourage you to take the long view instead. 2 Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” We must be careful not to exchange the priceless approval of God for the porridge of social media recognition.