In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious. And the good deeds done in secret will someday come to light. (1 Timothy 5:25)
I spent hours helping a young person, and in the process a real change took place in their life. They accepted Christ and choose to be baptised.
Before they were baptised they had the opportunity to share in front of the whole church how they came to know and trust Christ, which they did, but in the process of sharing they made not a single mention of the part I had played.
To my shame, I found myself feeling a little hurt. "How could they?" It was the perfect opportunity to let the church know what a good job I was doing!
The incident was a good reminder to me of why I was doing ministry. It wasn't for my glory but for God's! (And yes, He did get a mention in the young person's testimony!)
It is one thing to admit that everything we do is for God's glory, but it's quite another to lead that way. Christian leadership is an enormous privilege. Being used by God to accomplish His purposes is one of the most satisfying feelings there is.
The temptation however is to want some credit or admiration for ourselves. Most of us would not openly boast of what we're doing and the results we're seeing. We're far more likely to tell our "success stories" and leave them to draw the obvious conclusion about how good we are!
In Matthew 6:1 Jesus talked about the proper approach to helping those in need. He warned us not to do good deeds in order to be admired by others or we would lose our reward from our Father in heaven. In the next verse He goes on to say that if we try to draw attention to the good things we have done, we've already received all the reward we will ever get.
These are challenging and sobering words!
It's good to bear in mind when we're serving God that He can do an awful lot without us. In fact, it's true to say He doesn't need us, although in His goodness He has allowed us to partner with Him in what He is doing in people's lives. We can make the mistake of thinking that successful outcomes in our ministry and in people's lives is due to our efforts when I reality it's God who really deserves the credit.
In Luke 17 Jesus told a parable of a servant faithfully serving his master and poses the question, "Does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do?" His answer: "Of course not!' Why? Because they were only "doing their duty".
The implication is that if there is any credit we can take from being a leader, partnering with God in His work, it's simply this: "We are just doing our duty."
How do we resist this temptation to draw credit to ourselves in the eyes of others by letting them know of our good deeds and successes? By doing our best to keep these things secret!
When we do this, Paul promises in this verse that "the secret will someday come to light".
Sometimes, as Paul noted, our good deeds will become obvious. Other times word may leak out through someone telling of the good work you are doing. Sometimes you'll be asked a direct question and you'll need to admit to success rather than tell a lie!
But more often than not your good leadership deeds will remain completely unknown to all but those who are on the receiving end of your faithfulness. When that happens, you can rest in the assurance that the only one who needs to know and see, does know and see.
And when you stand before Him one day and He is about to reward you, all you'll be able to say is, "I am an unworthy servant who has simply done my duty."
What are some examples come to mind in which you've sought to draw attention to what you've done for God, or have looked to take some credit or glory for yourself?
What will you do differently, next time in order to give all glory to God?