If you’re at all like me, or rather, if you’re a human being (and if you’re reading this, those are good odds), you feel the pressure to perform. Now it could be in your job, as a parent, or even in your hobby. Especially if you’re competitive and feel “all of life is competition.” I often do. Whether it be me, or my kid competing in sports, there is a drive which goes beyond a healthy sense of the satisfaction with getting the job done to a very obvious idolatry.
Or perhaps even more subtle is the drive to religiously perform and look good before God and others. Church related performance can sometimes feel even tougher at times. But it shouldn’t.
Harbor Community Church’s mission/vision statement is “To Glorify God by multiplying a gospel-centered, city-blessing, missional and maturing community in West Bradenton.”
I’ve trimmed and tweaked this statement over time to make it easier for myself and others to know, memorize, and share. I was very close to taking out the “glorify God,” simply to make it simpler. But I’m glad I didn’t. Here’s why.
Whether we eat or drink, we are instructed to do all for the glory of God (I Cor 10:31). Including plant a church. Now I know the words “glorify God” don’t need to be in a mission/vision statement for a church to glorify God. That’s why I considered cutting it. But the busier I get into this church planting thing, the more I’m tempted to forget that vital truth.
In John 1, John the Baptist is described as not being a light, but instead coming “to bear witness about the light.” He simply pointed people to Jesus. It wasn’t about his glory and fame but about God’s glory and fame.
One of the side-effects of “taking pains” to remind ourselves about glorifying God corporately as a church is that as individuals we can relax. Because God can be glorified in whatever outcome, that immediately removes the pressure of a perceived picture of success. In a job, you work hard, but you can relax because you know that God can be glorified most not by your success or failure, but by you finding your pleasure/enjoyment in Him (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q 1).
Amy and I have started watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix. A college scout came to watch the start running back and potentially recruit him. The running back’s goal in life was to go to college and play in the NFL. As a result of such pressure, he stunk it up, and then turned to steroids to get bigger. The pressure to glorify oneself is too heavy for anyone to carry. So we turn to other stuff like drugs, or simply needing unhealthy affirmation from anyone or everyone in order to feel good about ourselves.
The reality is that living to glorify God is the most pressure-free way to live. It’s the most pressure-free way to build and multiply a church. That is not to say it doesn’t involve massive volunteer force, particularly in the area of children’s ministry, setting up, reaching out, etc….But when you do those things with the attitude that your ultimate aim is to glorify God, you become willing to learn, step out, serve, love. You become willing to fail if that would glorify God. Your goal isn’t to glorify yourself or even the church, but God.
Pressure is off.
The pressure can become overwhelming in glorifying yourself. If you’re not able to both work hard and yet relax at the same time, then you’re probably still trying in some ways to glorify yourself. I was convicted of that this morning. Our first order of business will always be to bring fame, honor, and respect to ourselves. It takes serious intentionality to switch the object of our glory.
There will always be pressure no matter what you do. But remember that Jesus says, “My yolks is easy and my burden is light (Matt 11:30).” He glorified the Father perfectly for us and invites us to trust Him that He may use us to do the same. Imperfectly of course, but nevertheless potentially more tomorrow than today.