“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” John 5:44
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30
I’m going to tell you something that I am not proud of. When I was in high school, I actually won an award for getting the most passing scores on the most AP exams in the entire state of South Carolina. I think I took 7 APs my senior year and 5 my junior year, and I got a 3 or higher on every single exam. The school actually engraved my name into a brick on the outside of the school.
Let me remind you that I am not proud of that. Yes, it is something to be super proud of. Yes, my mother is definitely proud of it for me. Yes, you might think I’m crazy that I don’t think that is the coolest thing ever. But I don’t. And this is why: Over the course of my entire senior year of high school, I slept about 400 hours. That averages like 2.5 hours a night.
I put so much pressure on myself to get good grades, I actually cried in class a couple times because I got a B on a test (as an 18 year old…). I wouldn’t let myself have a study hall second semester because I really thought I needed that one more AP class. I got so stressed out that there were a couple months where I literally couldn’t breathe right. They told me I had ‘stress induced asthma.’ I spent more time stressing (and crying) over my grades than I spent hanging out with my family, having quiet times, enjoying life with friends, or breathing combined.
I had turned success in school into a serious idol in my life. I thought that if I could just get great grades and be recognized for how great I was, then things would certainly be great! Except they weren’t. Every great grade I got wasn’t good enough.
And, because God knew my heart so well and was clearly trying to make a point, I pretty much never got recognized for those grades - I was not valedictorian, I didn’t get into my top colleges, I wasn’t even one of the nominees from my school for basically any scholarship. It wasn’t until I had settled into my freshman year and started acting like a normal person that I got the award for SC AP Scholar. Prior to that - there was little to no recognition. And praise the Lord for that.
God does want us to be the best that we can be. He made us to be us and calls us to do that to the best of our ability. But that doesn’t mean he’s calling us to actually be the best. God is the best! We are not meant to be number one - He is! And we are not meant to make other things number one in our lives either.
Believe me when I say that worshiping idols is a great way to never really feel great. So, whatever it is you pressure yourself about, give yourself a break! Stop making human recognition the most important thing in your life. Let yourself be less so that He can be greater! Turn to God and ask Him to help you be your personal best, and then be thrilled with what that is! Because you are so loved by the God who made you, whether you make great grades or win every race or speak 20 languages or not. You are still so loved.