A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

A Pat on the Back

Posted on: June 22, 2015

One thing I always loved about school was the chance to earn recognition for a job well done:

  • “Good work!” stickers, comments or stamps on schoolwork
  • certificates or awards for scholastic achievement
  • merit awards for academic excellence

As adults, we may receive awards for strong employee performance, excellence in business, or outstanding community service.

It’s easy to become hooked on these gold stars and the lift they give us.

We may find ourselves trying to boost our profile at work or in the community, earn a promotion, or impress family or friends. Wanting people who once looked down us to see that we’ve succeeded. Trying to surpass expectations in one area of our lives while we’re struggling in another.

But St. Josemaría Escrivá cautioned us against forgetting the true purpose of work:

You must be careful; don’t let your professional success or failure—which will certainly come—make you forget, even for a moment, what the true aim of your work is: the glory of God!

~ Quoted in “Celebrate June 2015,” Catholic Digest, June / July / August 2015

True, people may be impressed when we win an award or achieve an objective, or notice how we’ve grown and changed since high school or university, or think we have it all together. But that’s not the goal. So what is? Using the gifts God has given us to bring glory to him, as Jesus called us to do in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:16*):

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

When we earn recognition for our efforts, we need to remember and acknowledge who really deserves the glory. We need to praise and thank him and point others to him—not in an aggressive way, but as the Holy Spirit guides us.

I pray that we’d take to heart the words of the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:17:

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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1 Response to "A Pat on the Back"

I always think of the magnificat. When Mary was given a compliment from her cousin Elizabeth, she didn’t deny the compliment. She accepted the compliment/praise from Elizabeth while still acknowledging that it was God who had done such things in her. I think this is a perfect example of how to accept praise. We shouldn’t be timid, but accept a compliment/praise while accepting that God gave us this gift of talent.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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