It feels good to get noticed. Doesn’t it? I get a surge of energy when someone singles me out to let me know I’ve done something well. I believe we’re wired that way. God Himself stepped back from His brand new creation in Genesis and said, “It’s good.” There’s nothing wrong with being proud of a job done well. But, what happens when we go through a rough patch where it seems like no one is noticing us? Maybe it’s at work, in your marriage, as a friend, or as a parent. It can be tempting to step up our game and do whatever it takes to figure out how to get noticed again. Before long, we’re exhausting ourselves on a treadmill of self-promotion and perpetual disappointment.
Our very real spiritual enemy, Satan, likes to exploit our natural desire to be noticed and tricks us into working for the wrong things. Getting noticed is not supposed to be satisfying, but we keep trying anyway, never quite happy with the results. We spend so much time focused inwardly that we stop trusting God for true satisfaction. That’s when pride starts to creep in. It doesn’t sprout from a place of great confidence, but from a dissatisfied heart laboring for recognition. Left untended, it grows into a self-reliance that pretends to have no need for God or anyone else.
The Kingdom of God is upside-down compared to how most of us think and live. We’re trained to believe the fastest, strongest, and smartest will achieve the most success. But Jesus talked about a different approach when He said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 NLT Again, we must step off the treadmill and pick up the cross. Look at the example of Jesus in Philippians 2:8-9 NLT, “he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names …”
What does it mean to pick up your cross? The cross is where Jesus died so we could live. So, what opportunity to give others life feels like it might just kill you—or at least your ego? Try that one first.
Jesus didn’t have to work to be noticed. Instead, it was His humility that God recognized. Jesus literally gave up His right to live, and God rewarded Him with the place of highest honor. We’re no different. The antidote to our pride problem is humble service. Instead of working hard to get noticed, learn that in this upside-down Kingdom, sacrifice and servanthood grab God’s attention. It works with people too—your boss, your spouse, your family. As you serve others and put their needs above your own, you develop a healthy self-perspective. Believe me, this is a real thing I’ve been working through.
Think about what Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers, said regarding humility. So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 1 Peter 5:6 NLT
When we work to win honor on our own, we often end up wasting valuable time and resources trying to earn something God gives generously. This can leave us feeling defeated and deflated. So what’s the real secret for how to get noticed? Stop trying. When we serve God with humility and put others’ needs before our own, God will lift us up at just the right time and give us the legitimate recognition we crave: His.