"Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. ... Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you." (Matthew 6:1-4)

The crowd cheered wildly when he caught the pass for a touchdown. A friend turned to me and explained that at the end of last year, he was the one that everyone expected to start at quarterback this season. Yet even though he was a senior, this young man told the coach he felt it would be better for him to play receiver this year and let another young man play quarterback because it was best for the team. For an 18-year-old young man to give up the premier position on the football field for his senior year is remarkable. Thankfully, people noticed his actions and deeply appreciate them. What's more, this young man's assessment was correct. His willingness to give up the premier role for another important role benefited his team and set the tone for this group of very talented young men to play unselfishly as a team!

Surrendering personal glory for the good of a greater purpose is admired today, but usually from afar. Unfortunately, it's not something done very often in our immediate gratification and search for personal glory culture. Yet when we look at the Kingdom of God, we know that such an attitude is crucial.

Do I do what I do to receive recognition or to bless the Father?
In the Bible, no one exemplifies this essential attitude better than John the Baptist — maybe that's why Jesus complimented the importance of John. (Luke 7:28) Despite his followers and his opponents both wanting to place him in the pre-eminent role of Messiah, John steadfastly reminded people that he was just the messenger preparing the way for someone greater. He wanted folks to know that he came to prepare the way for the Messiah and to be the witness preparing the way for God's coming Kingdom. "I am not the Messiah," John said. (John 1:19-36) When others came to tell him that Jesus, whom John had baptized, was now gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, his answer was clear: "A person can receive only what is given him from God. ... He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:22-30)

So often we find ourselves thinking that we didn't get a fair shake or weren't recognized for what we have done. Petty disagreements, and even horrible arguments, can develop out of the cesspool of bitterness that such feelings can breed in us. How desperately the Kingdom of God needs more people who are willing to do their work well regardless of how they are recognized here on earth. Imagine if we took to heart the following words of Jesus in terms of our personal recognition: "Seek first the Kingdom of heaven and all these things will be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)

Let's take a hard look at hearts and ask ourselves the even harder question: "Do I do what I do for God to receive recognition or to bless the Father and help grow his Kingdom?" I can't help believe more of us need to follow the examples of the 18-year-old wide receiver and John the Baptist. Let's do what we do to help others find Christ and help grow the influence of the Kingdom.