more of the same…

Reading a little further in Pickering, I encountered this paragraph:

It is the nature of the flesh to want recognition and greatness. The sons of Zebedee were supremely concerned about their status in the coming kingdom. ‘Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory’ (Mark 10:37). On another occasion the disciples enquired, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ (Matt. 18:1). Their question sounds hauntingly familiar, similar to the present-day scramble among evangelicals for ‘bragging rights.’ The Scriptures give an antidote for this problem: ‘And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not’ (Jer. 45:5). How many of God’s servants today are spending much thought, time, and energy seeking ‘great things’? Our goal should be the honor and glory of the blessed Lord. ‘For I know that the Lord is great’ (Ps. 135:5). [Ernest Pickering, The Tragedy of Compromise, 136-137]

Dr. Pickering’s words sound like an echo of my last post. I am afraid, however, that it is not just evangelicals who scramble for bragging rights. The phenomenon is all too familiar in fundamental circles as well, although perhaps our self-promoters are less interested in the applause of the world than the applause of the brethren.

Whatever the focus of the lust for recognition, it is a Spirit-deadening ingredient in Christian ministry. It is a major component of the fuel of wood, hay, and stubble Paul speaks of in 1 Cor 3.

May our ambitions be to please Christ, and let Him give us recognition, or not.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3


  1. Chris Anderson says:

    Hey, Don.

    You beat me to the punch: seeking kudos isn’t an evangelical problem, it’s a human problem. And fundamentalists are sometimes even more human than our brothers on the left in this particular area, I fear.

    BTW, isn’t it nice to set the topic of conversation for a change? Welcome.

  2. I agree that it is a human problem. I can see how my earlier post could be construed to think fundamentalists are somehow immune.

    Do you agree that there is a difference in the focus, however? I think the evangelicals like the applause of the brethren quite well, but they also (generally speaking) are much more concerned with how the world perceives them. Fundamentalists who succumb to this temptation are usually not focused on the world’s approval. This engenders the crassness and pride that the so-called YFs despise.

    Speaking of YFs, where do they fit in with this particular temptation? Some of them embrace the whole evangelical approach, I think, and morph into evangelicals. I am thinking of several family members on that one. Others are seeking not so much the approval of the fundamentalist brethren and not so much the world (necessarily) but rather the approval of the evangelical brethren. Or at least, the approval of the more conservative evangelical brethren.

    All in all, we need to guard our spirits in this, because we all like to be liked.

    And last, yes it is better to be setting the tone than reacting. I had not thought of that aspect of this until getting this modest little effort going. I think proactive is that I want to be, less reactive. I think I will blog more about blogging in the next one.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. Chris Anderson says:

    Hard to say about the YF’s, Don. I think there are some who want kudos from others. But I think there are a bunch who really don’t care (or at least don’t appear to care) about what anybody thinks. Seriously. Maybe that’s not true deep down, but I think the fierce independency of my generation & the next tends toward an attitude like “I’ll do what I think is right regardless of what Greenville or anybody else thinks.”

    That can be good, freeing us from man-made expectations and faulty motives. And that can be bad, also freeing us from helpful accountability and the wisdom of previous generations. Or it can be fake–a desire to appear that I don’t care what others think even while simultaneously hoping others will notice & be impressed. :)

    The heart is deceitful, eh?

    Apply these thoughts to blogging & you might just trade in your PC for an Etch-a-Sketch.

  4. Don says:

    Well, that is what I meant by posting about ego and blogging earlier. We all like recognition.

    I don’t think the YFs as we call them care about Greenville, Watertown or Dunbar’s opinions of them. I do think they are much more interested in the approval or affirmation of their peers and/or Sun Valley and its like.

    I think the vaunted ‘independence’ of this generation isn’t real.

    But who am I to say? I am just observing from a great distance. I could be totally out to lunch. I do think time will tell, and I do think that we should be ready and willing to sound the alarm when things don’t seem right.

    Dr. Custer told us once in Contemporary Theology, “Gentlemen, we are training you to be devil sniffers.” In other words, to be able to detect and discern error.

    We need to be on the guard and watchful, both externally and internally.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3