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The greatest enemy of progress…(especially in ministry)

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“The way to get things done is not to mind who gets the credit.” 
– Jesuit Priest, Father Strickland

The problem

The first time I read that quote I knew it was for me.  For the girl who always wanted to rightfully divide the work.  Who always wanted to perform at my best to show I could hold my own.  In group settings, I didn’t think it was fair for one or two to do all the work and everyone reap the benefits.  I felt each should get credit for what he or she did and nothing more.  I would often get exasperated when people didn’t recognize how hard I worked or didn’t realize all that went into what I had accomplished.  Honestly, I still have some of these same feeling but I’ve realized over time that some things are more important than being acknowledged…one of which is progress.

Falling in love with results

The only thing more important than credit is a successful result.  Without achievement, who did what and why is neither here nor there.  Credit is only truly cared about after something great has been accomplished.  So the first step in living out this quote is to fall more in love with the vision of success than the pat on the back you might receive afterward.  For instance, if my church plans to move into a bigger building to serve more people, the motivation to contribute has to be more about the impact the church will have on the community than the list of thank you’s the pastor reads the first Sunday morning in the new building.  The idea is to totally sell out for the cause so that there is no room to care about who gets the credit.

This, of course, is easier said than done.  We live in an egotistical society where many are starved for a handclap or honorable mention.  We are so motivated by awards, prizes, and accolades that we often lose the satisfaction of simple accomplishment.  It’s a culturally embedded system of reward that will more than likely get worse.  We, then, must confront ourselves and purpose to make the attainment of our goals (and not the resultant reward) the one and only priority.  Yes, it may mean that I do more work than everyone else.  It may mean I am under-appreciated. It may even mean that I am not given credit when it is due.  But when I know who I am and what I’ve done no one can give or take away my value. This is the essence of humility.   It is not self-deprecation.   It is not self-sabotage.  It is deciding to prioritize results over credit.


The biggest part of this boils down to self-valuation.  We must learn to value ourselves with or without the recognition of someone else.  Too many times, I’ve seen program committee members leave successful conferences with their feelings hurt.  Assistants with bowed heads, bitter because they were not recognized or mentioned.  Teammates guised with excitement but inwardly despising one of their celebrated teammates after a big win.  The moment we realize we can never do alone what we can do together is the moment the fight for credit will finally cease. Social advancement lies in the balance.  Goals are waiting to be realized.  Even ministry is affected!  It’s time for less of me and more of we.  Read the quote above every time you approach a team project or ministry and see how it works for you!



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