One of the marks of maturity in a believer is realizing my ultimate purpose in life, in seeing the big picture instead of just focusing on how things affect me. This is illustrated beautifully in the difference between Saul and David.
In 14:24, Saul foolishly put an extra burden on his soldiers, forbidding them to eat anything until they achieved victory over the Philistines. Setting aside the stupidity of not feeding your troops and expecting starving men to fight better, notice his particular phrasing: “[until] I have avenged myself on my enemies!” Apparently he thought of the wars on the Philistines as a personal vendetta, not as a mission assigned to him from the Lord. He was not some self-made king; he was anointed by the Lord as his representative. He was not supposed to be out on his own little personal grudge-match. Any slights against Israel were against him personally.
Not so with David. The first time he heard Goliath making his blasphemous threats and boasts, his concern was not for his own glory, or even the glory of Israel. He immediately volunteered to face the giant (something which Saul had failed to do), and we need to notice HIS focus, his goal, why he was out there: “[that] the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.” He did not give a moment’s thought to his reputation, but for how the world would view his God. He wanted the Lord to get as much glory and praise as possible.
Do you realize that this is the Lord’s primary concern as well? You might be tempted to think it’s egotistical for him to have this as his ultimate concern; however, the difference between humanity’s pride and God’s desire to be glorified is that he deserves it. If all creation purposefully and wholeheartedly devoted itself to his praise for all eternity, then that would be nothing more than exactly what he deserves.
This affects everything in our lives, especially when it comes to ministry. When our church is not doing so well (financially, spiritually, or in attendance), we tend to take it personally. This is OUR church, after all. We also make the same mistake when our church is doing really well. This is OUR church. Well, it is and it isn’t. It’s our church in the sense that we belong to it, but it does not belong to us. It is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ: He sought it out, chose it, and paid for it with his own blood. Whatever happens to the church, whether success or body-blows, happens to him. When it expands, he’s glorified. When it suffers apparent setbacks, then we need to deal with it under his leadership, not going off on our own tangent. Just burn this catchphrase into your brain, and you’ll be fine: “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME.” When we follow David's example in having God's glory and renown as our primary concern, we're in sync with our Father. And that's a good thing.
Lord Jesus, it seems that this is a lesson I need to learn and relearn. Please refocus my eyes on what’s really important. Make me a man after your own heart.