The last few weeks I have been pondering Jesus' words in John 12:42-43: "Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God" (ESV). Notice that Jesus did not say that His followers should not seek glory; He said they should not seek it from the wrong sources. Let's examine this concept a bit further in this week's Memo titled "Glory."
When I was in Santiago, Cuba years ago, a man came up to me and studied my face for a few seconds before he asked, "Are you John Stanko?" When I assured him I was, he informed me that he had heard me speak in Los Angeles a few years back and still remembered what I had spoken about, which of course was purpose. He then thanked God for the message and informed me that he had indeed found and was fulfilling his purpose. I also thanked God and left that encounter even more committed to spread the purpose gospel.
Yet, I also left that chance meeting with a renewed love for being recognized when I am in public. Once I was in an African airport and a man walked up to me, opened his briefcase, pulled out one of my books he was reading, and asked if I would autograph it and pose for a picture. I agreed to both and was exhilarated by his requests. I then thanked God that He had enabled me to touch that man's life through the purpose message in one of my books. Then I was on a moving sidewalk in the Baltimore airport when a man moving in the other direction, yelled out, "Are you John Stanko? I read your book!" I smiled and waved back, wondering which book he was referring to, but thanking God once again that I had made a difference in someone's life. Those encounters are what have kept me writing, and at last count, I have published 37 books, including a few I have re-written.
In all three cases, I received a measure of glory in the form of recognition and praise. I was identified for who I was and what I had done for God that impacted others, and I was not uncomfortable with the experience. In fact, I wanted more - more recognition and more impact on people's lives. In a sense, you could say that I wanted (and still want) more glory.
I have discussed this concept of attention to self in my series on self-promotion, which you can read here or watch my videos on the subject on my Urban Press Facebook page. Jesus said it was a problem to seek glory from the wrong source (people) but permissible to seek it from the correct source (God). The safest way to obtain this glory is the same way that Jesus did, as described in John 17:4: "I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do" (ESV).
The glory I described in my three examples is what I call purpose glory. It is the recognition and impact that we receive when we function in our purpose. Today, I have a publishing company and I know I have helped people publish that otherwise would not have been able to do so. When they announce their books on social media. they thank God for their books. God is glorified through the work I do, and then they also thank me for my role. God and I formed a partnership that brought God glory as I fulfilled my purpose, and I shared in that glory. When I did, God was not offended, angered, or slighted in the least.
You will not give God glory by singing about it, saying the word "glory" in a worship setting, or reading about it in your Bible or some other source. You will not give God glory if you are afraid that some of it may spill over on to you, thus offending and angering God. God cannot get glory unless you do something that causes others to acknowledge His work in and through you that benefited and blessed their lives. Therefore, you need to "get over yourself" and your hang up about drawing attention to yourself and start drawing attention to yourself in a good way, and that is by seeking the glory that comes from God, a glory that is connected to engaging and finishing the work He gave you to do. Have a blessed week!