It's different for each of us. Sometimes it's driven by the desire to be accepted. Other times by the goals and pace we set for ourselves. Sometimes we just desperately want to see all our hard work appreciated. "Look what I did; I busted my butt completing this! I did an outstanding job; better than my peers! Did anyone even notice?! Is anyone watching?!"
I had a co-worker who I considered a mentor. We worked on a couple projects together that, in the end, won publicity and academic acclaim for our company. It was like no one even cared. We put in long hours, raised awareness - probably even the IQ - of this organization and it's national image. We didn't hear one peep from our managers. I asked her if it seemed odd that we didn't even get an email acknowledging our efforts. Her response was: "In all my years of experience I've come to realize that some people are born for recognition while others will never receive it no matter what they accomplish. Molly, you and I seem to be the second example - we rarely achieve recognition for our work."
Doesn't that seem to be about right? I know people that get recognized for their effort in projects when the sum total they contributed was less than 10% while others that contributed the bulk of the project get overlooked. Seems wrong somehow.
Here's the rub: I know what my response would be if I were to get public recognition for my contributions. I would want to brush off the compliment & run. Deep down inside, yes, I appreciate the acknowledgement but outwardly I'm a little embarrassed and uncomfortable. I don't handle compliments easily. It's taken me years to learn to simply smile and say: "Thank you." Nonetheless - I still crave recognition for a job well done.
So, what to do with this "need" or "desire" for recognition, for praise? Is it good? Is it evil? What's the deal? I like John Eldredge' s explanation from his book The Sacred Romance. John tells a story about his 2yr old son Luke, asking him to watch as he rode his WonderColt. John gave a verbal response and then turned his head away. Luke demanded; "Watch me!" John goes on: "He wanted praise, admiration, applause - in short, he wanted glory. How could it be otherwise? We are created in the image of God, or more precisely, as a reflection of the Trinity. If we really understood this wonderful truth deep in our hearts, it would probably bring revival in our day. Consider just two essential realities that flow from this fact. First...the Trinity is a community and so to be made in its image means we are relational at our core....The Trinity is a society whose members draw their identities from the others. The Father wouldn't be a Father if it weren't for his relationship to the Son and to us....Of course, the Son would never have been one if not for the presence of the Father....And just like my son, Luke, and all children, what he craves most, his greatest prize, is the applause of the Father. 'Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world' (John 17:24). Identity is not something that falls on us out of the sky. For better or worse, identity is bestowed. We are who we are in relation to others. But far more important, we draw our identity from our impact on those others - if and how we affect them. We long to know we make a difference in the lives of others, to know that we matter, that our presence cannot be replaced by a pet, a possession, or even another person."
I love that analysis. Of course, it doesn't help me know how to battle the pursuit of glory. That is probably an area of submission unto Christ. But it's a comfort to know that the longing for applause is a natural reflection of the Trinity. We were built and designed for praise - even if we aren't receiving it. *smile*
One last thought. Lecrae has released a song that is an excellent reminder of our place in relation to Christ. We should be content to be in the background as He orchestrates our life. Enjoy the song!