In any ministry, we can be tempted to take credit for the successes we encounter. This is especially true in a new church plant. After all, we were part of the ‘Genesis’ of the work. When I am tempted to take credit I am reminded of how Peter and John handled the situation after they saw a man healed by Jesus thru their ministry:
Acts 3:11-21 (ESV) - While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
Notice that the people were more than willing to hand the credit to them. That is usually the case for both problem and blessing. When things go wrong, the ministry leader takes the fall. That makes it even harder not to accept at least some of the credit when things go right. But if we take the credit and get the glory what are the probably outcomes?
- We lift up ourselves rather than our Savior. Peter and John had done a good thing by helping this man but all they had done was point Him to Christ. If they had taken the credit they would have missed the opportunity to life up the name of Jesus.
- We put ourselves in the position of provider rather than our Great God. You might think it is nice to be seen as the provider…until your doorway is full the morning after you took credit for something you have no earthly ability to sustain. That results in you becoming tired and in the people seeking provision from you being left empty-handed. We connect people to the Source of all things when we point every good thing to God’s handiwork.
- We lose the opportunity to share The Gospel with those who see God at work. If we flex our muscles and say ‘that’s right, I am pretty good aren’t I?’, that will be the end of it. However, if we see the adulation coming from others, and use that as a platform to present The Gospel, we have made the most of an opportunity that may not come again. Peter and John do a fabulous job of that in this encounter.
- We get our reward right here instead of eternally. A helpful passage on this thought would be Matthew 6. Our rewards are to serve God here and enjoy God there (eternally). We lay up treasures for ourselves when we serve and expect zero credit…when we see credit coming and quickly point it upward towards the only One worthy of such praise - God!