February 9, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Psalm 115:1
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.
We have a variety of motivations for our work, and this can be just fine. But in all we do, our ultimate motivation should be the glory of God. We have been created and saved so that we might live for the praise of God’s glory at work, rest, and play.
We have a variety of motivations for our work. In part, we work in order to support our lives and the lives of those we love. We work because we have gifts and talents that deserve to be employed. We work because it gives us a sense of satisfaction. We work so that we can be generous in our financial giving. We work because our sense of identity is wrapped up in it.
Sometimes we work so that people will see how well we are doing and praise us. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the affirmations of others concerning our work, especially when those others are our customers, colleagues, stakeholders, and bosses. But sometimes we can become so strongly desirous of the praise of others that we neglect a basic truth of the Christian life: We live for God’s glory. We find this truth most obviously in the first chapter of Ephesians where it says that God has saved us through Christ in order that we might live for the praise of God’s glory (Ephesians 1:12).
The opening verse of Psalm 115 not only reminds us that God’s glory is the main point of our lives but also reflects the tension we can feel between living for God’s glory and living for our own glory. When the psalm writer says, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,” we get the sense of someone wrestling over whose glory matters most. Yet, no matter how much the Psalmist might want his own glory, his prayer in this psalm reflects a deep desire for God to be glorified in all things. So, as we are taught by this song to pray, we align our hearts with that of the songwriter, putting God’s glory first in our lives, including our daily work.
Gracious God, not to us, not to us, but to your name be the glory.
Lord, you know that sometimes I can be overly concerned about my own reputation. There are times when I work for my glory most of all. Forgive me for seeking my own glory above yours. Help me to work each day with the desire that you be glorified in and through me.
When I’ve done well at work and people are affirming me, may I receive that affirmation as a sweet gift. But in that time, O God, not to me but to your name be the glory.
When I look at the work I’ve done and feel a deep inner pride, may that pride be one that is also humble before you. I would not have succeeded apart from your steadfast love and faithfulness. My success reflects your grace and mercy at work in my life. So, not to me, Lord, but to you be the glory.
When the organization where I work flourishes, may my colleagues and I recognize the impact of your grace. Yes, we can delight in the good work we have done, but may we see that work as a reflection of your goodness. Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory. Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day
No matter what you are working on today, do it for God’s glory.
For Further Reflection
Read all of Psalm 115.
You may also wish to read Ephesians 1:1–14.
Banner image by Bethanyt Legg on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Trust the Lord, Your Helper and Your Shield.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.