I was recently speaking with a friend who was in the middle of a renovation project. The property he was working on was not his own home, but a small flat that he was preparing to rent out. As we spoke about the investment of money, time and effort he was making and how tired he was, I encouraged him, telling him that this asset will bring a return for many years and it will be worth the work.
The moment I used that word ‘asset’, it touched a chord inside of him. He said “David, I sometimes feel like I’m only an asset”. He went on … “I feel like I am being used by all kinds of people for what I can do for them, and they never seem to show their appreciation of me”. Perhaps you know the feeling. Sometimes we need to create boundaries in our lives that will protect us from being used in ungodly ways by others. On the other hand, sometimes we lose our perspective and allow our selfish human nature to throw a pity party for us.
The truth is that my friend had freely volunteered to do the things he was doing, and nobody was holding him under any compulsion to do them. In fact, he felt called by God to do those things and actually wanted to do them. For a moment, his human nature was crying out for human recognition, and when it didn’t come, he felt discouraged and disappointed.
We all need encouragement from time to time and it’s important that we recognise the efforts of those around us and thank them, or speak words of affirmation to them. However, as Christians, our primary source of affirmation needs to be our Father God. We mustn’t forget that Satan and the flesh are constantly tempting us to spend every minute of our lives serving ourselves and our own needs. When we’re not serving ourselves, our flesh cries out in protest.
As I prayed for my friend, I felt that God was saying that, serving Him and working for His Kingdom purposes (i.e. pouring out our lives for the needs of others) for no material gain and no recognition from people, is designed to set us free from the trap of serving self. So, that feeling of disappointment was actually an opportunity … an opportunity for my friend to become more like the One who came not to be served, but to serve. The question is, how can we take advantage of such an opportunity?
First of all, we need to pour out our need of recognition to God, telling him exactly how we feel. We then need to humble ourselves and say sorry for not seeking one hundred percent of our affirmation from Him. Often, at this point, God will reveal something that has happened in our lives, such as a person who rejected us, or a parent who failed to affirm us when we needed it. This experience may have left a deep need for affirmation in us. We could call it a wound, or a ‘gap’ of affirmation. The process of healing usually begins with forgiveness. As we choose to forgive those who’ve hurt us, God begins to heal our hearts, and pour in His affirmation.
My prayer for you is that, as you resist the devil, crucify the desires of the flesh, and forgive those who’ve hurt you, you’ll look to God and receive the healing, comfort, encouragement and affirmation you need from the Holy Spirit. Being delighted in Him alone, you’ll be free to serve others without receiving anything in return. I pray that craving human recognition will be a thing of the past as you experience the reality of Jesus’ words, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Prayer: Father, I know that You’ve seen everything that has happened in my life, and You know that my desire is to serve You and You alone. I’m sorry for the times that I’ve sought the recognition of people, and been offended when I haven’t received it. Right now, I choose to forgive, and release from my judgement, all the people who’ve rejected me, or failed to affirm me. I’m asking You to heal any wounds in me and fill the gap of affirmation that I’ve been living with. I believe that the affirmation of my perfect, heavenly Father is more than enough for me, and from now on, I want to look to You for one hundred per cent of the affirmation I need. Thank You that not only have You given me the joy of salvation, but You also have rewards waiting for me in heaven. Thank You for loving me and giving me the privilege of serving others for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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