Addicted to One’s Own Glory vs. Living for God’s Glory

I was reading through blogger and pastor Morgan Guyton’s archives yesterday.  There’s usually something in his posts that really resonates with me, whether or not I agree with everything he’s saying.  It’s like he has had many of the same questions that I do, and he has found constructive ways to address them.

In his May 20, 2011 post, God’s holiness and hospitality, Morgan says the following:

“For those who have been stomped on by the world, I can understand the attraction of Revelation’s bowls of wrath and trumpets of rage against the seemingly invincible social order. How is God hospitable to those whom we ignore and mistreat? Does he have to smash a bottle on our heads to get us to shut up and let somebody else talk? What does God do about the people who need to be the center of attention when the only way to throw a perfect eternal party is for God to be the center of attention because He can handle the attention?”

I especially liked the part about how God should be the center of attention because he can actually handle it!

What Morgan said there reminded me of one of Mark Driscoll’s twitter updates (although I gather than Morgan is not exactly a fan of Mark Driscoll!).  Driscoll said (see here):

“Most people are miserable because they’re addicted to their own glory & they’re not getting it. Living for God’s glory is the way to joy.”

I’m sure that people can take issue with what Mark Driscoll said, and how he said it.  I for one would be very hesitant to say that something is true of “Most people”, since I don’t know most people.  Moreover, there are many people who are miserable because they’re clinically depressed, not because they’re disappointed that they’re not being glorified enough.  That said, I identified with what Mark Driscoll wrote because I feel that it describes me: I’m often miserable because I want to be affirmed or praised, and I’m disappointed when I don’t get that affirmation or praise that I desire or think I deserve.

The question is this: How can I live for God’s glory?  What does that mean?  Going back to Morgan’s quote, sure, I’d hope that I would lay aside my desire for people to pay attention to me and let everyone pay attention to God, if God were in the room!  And maybe God is in the room.  But all I see are the people!  And, that being the case, I see us all as competing for attention.

Overall, living for God’s glory may entail thinking more about God (God’s beauty, God’s love), and thinking more about others.  The challenge, for me, is figuring out how to do so.  I can think more about God by reading the Bible.  But, right now, I’m reading about Solomon’s power struggles in I Kings 1-2.  How is that an inspiring way for me to think about God?  Well, maybe it isn’t.  At the same time, I do have a degree of empathy for Solomon, who was trying to rule, amidst shrewd and high-ranking people who did not even want him as king.  When I can sympathize and empathize with someone who feels vulnerable, that, in my mind, is a positive step.  But is it good enough?

I feel obliged to list other ways to live for God’s glory: service work, helping others, and listening to others’ stories.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to Addicted to One’s Own Glory vs. Living for God’s Glory

  1. Thanks for sharing. Love that you found some cross-fertilization between me and Mark Driscoll. He’s become sort of a cheap punching bag for a lot of people in the “I’m evangelical but not like those evangelicals” community. I’ve been guilty of it. Trying to do better. But the point you shared is very sound. Yeah the more I read the Bible, the more I’m convinced that God’s sovereignty, covenant solidarity, and mercy are very much intertwined. You’re either submitted to it and protected by it or you’re one of the bullies on the outside who God doesn’t let into the sanctuary where truth is spoken in love.

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  2. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Yeah, Mark Driscoll’s turned me off in the past, too, especially when he was criticizing the Shack, and during that controversy about church discipline. But I’m finding myself reading him and Piper, for some reason. It’s not because I lean Calvinist, I’ll tell you that!

    Thanks for your comment.

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