As I was reading the Gospel of John, I came across a familiar passage that describes the reaction of many who saw the miracles that Jesus performed.
“Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so they would not be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” (John 12:42-43 ESV)
This passage made me stop and think. In a world of pervasive social networks where the goal is to collect the most “friends,” “likes,” “followers,” “+1’s,” or be in the most “circles,” I thought about how we chase the glory that comes from man now more than ever before. But more specifically, I questioned how much of what I do is to glorify myself rather than to glorify God.
So I asked myself questions. When I write articles or books, do I write in such as way as to glorify God, or do I write what I think will be popular with readers? When I make pictures, do I choose scenes and subjects that I think will gain recognition for me as a photographer, or do I photograph subjects and scenes that will help others “see” God? While I can honestly say that most of the time I want to glorify God through the work He gives me, it’s still tempting to slip into the popularity-contest syndrome, or to do what I or my client thinks will sell best.
And then there is the problem of experience and habit. Once I get deeply involved in a project or I’m facing a deadline, I fall back into my years of experience and forge ahead, neglecting His presence and leading. I hate it when that happens, so I’ve learned to do two things.
First, every morning, I ask for the Lord to guide me in all that I do. And, second, at the end of the day, I evaluate what I’ve done during the day. Almost always, I can pinpoint times when I went off on my own. So I talk to the Lord about why it happened and ways to keep it from happening tomorrow. For me, it’s an ongoing process of learning to be attuned to His presence in every moment.
Doing work that glorifies God begins at the outset of whatever work we do—at the stage of conception. With photography, it is looking for the light and subject that illuminates the stunning beauty of God’s creation. And the focus on glorifying God continues as I edit images with integrity toward what I saw and photographed. The same is true with writing, and with any work. From beginning to end, the goal is to glorify God in every step. The beauty of it is that if I ask for His help, He graciously and generously provides the ideas, light, subjects, and words that I need. And what the Lord provides is always far better than anything I could come up with on my own. (And while I'm talking about work in this post, glorifying God applies to all that we do in our lives.)Earlier in the book of John, Jesus said, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name. Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’” (John 12:27-28 ESV) Our work is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ so that He, in turn, can glorify the Father. And Jesus promised, “If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:26) It is for this purpose—to glorify God—that we have life.