When I think of glory, I think of Roman warriors. I'm not really sure how that happened. Let's just agree to blame the movie industry. So when I hear the word "glory," I often find myself picturing a muscular man (usually with Gerard Butler's face) raising a sword in the air, wearing one of those gold leaf crowns and something that slightly resembles a kilt, shouting "FOR NARNIA!" I know I just threw out a hodgepodge of references that are probably in no way related, but that's how it is in my head.
Praise and adoration from others. Celebrated victory. Fame. Renown. All those things are wrapped up in the idea of glory.
But glory doesn't always come barreling through the crowd in a golden chariot.
Sometimes it comes in blog comments and retweets. Sometimes it comes in applause or pay raises or "love those boots!" Nothing wrong with those things on their face. I don't think you need to shut down your comment section or wear ugly boots to avoid it. But making those things your goal, or stacking them up in a nice, neat pile to admire, or feeling less valuable when they don't come...that's when it becomes detrimental.
There's something I heard at my church a few weeks ago that really convicted me of this attitude:
You can't seek God's glory and your own at the same time.
It doesn't work. In seeking God's glory we are required to die to ourselves each day. To put his plans above our own. To humble ourselves and exalt Christ. To surrender to the fact that life is not about us.
I think until that point I understood that I should seek God's glory in my life, but it didn't quite register that it also meant instead of my own. I think my sentiment was that as long as I sought his glory first and foremost, I could seek my own right behind it. As long as I didn't seek mine more than his. It's a slight difference on paper, but it's a huge difference in my heart.
We must give all of ourselves to Christ, and we should strive to exalt him first and foremost in every aspect of our lives.
I'm not going to lie, even though having a blog and pursuing writing is something I think God has blessed me with and delights in, doing something so fueled by my own creativity and individuality makes this little concept pretty difficult to retain. Any slight gain in traction or appreciation can easily set me back on a track that says it's all about me.
It's difficult to walk the line between having the freedom in the Spirit to not be required to write a "Christian" blog or "Christian" book in order to glorify God, and writing books and blogs that do nothing but promote myself. I sometimes struggle with how to still glorify God (rather than myself) even though I'm not overly talking about him.
Though I have found that when I'm making my blog traffic or my desire for people to like my writing a higher priority than my relationship with the Lord, I find that I'm more stressed and unsettled. I feel like I'm always behind what everyone else is doing. But when I flip those priorities around, I feel more at peace. Funny how that works out.
Because when it's not about me, it takes the pressure off. There's no grade or performance review. It doesn't matter if two people read my blog or if two thousand people read it. It just matters if I'm exalting Christ with my life. Which is not to say that's easy, but it's not contingent on doing everything right. And that's a relief.
It's a daily struggle for me, and one that I'm sure I'll be working on for a long time.
What parts of your life are you tempted to use for your own glory?