Does it Matter Who Gets the Credit?

On the desk of President Ronald Regan was a plaque with the words, “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”  Regan was a master communicator, but the saying did not originate with him, nor with another president, Harry S. Truman, who used an ever-so-slightly different version of the recitation.  The original, “A man can do an immense deal of good, if he does not care who gets the credit for it”, is attributed to an 1863 assertion by Father Strickland, a Jesuit Priest.  When our episode 3 guest, Jeff Christopherson was hearing God’s call on his life to start a new church in Oakville, ON two decades ago, one of the things he sensed Good telling him and the team, “I’m going to take care of you, I’m going to do something that you have never seen before… and don’t take the credit for it.”  We probably like the first two things God told Jeff and the team, but some might question or even bristle at the “don’t take the credit” part.  As you read on, I hope to convince you that the continuation of the former promises were predicated on the latter.

In his now famous book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren opens with, “Its not about you.”  In that singular declaration, Warren draws a dividing line in the sand that sets the biblical worldview as a disruptive way of thinking in the world we live.   This notion that we are not at the centre of our universe runs contrary to our human nature and is wildly countercultural.  We want to be the masters of our own destiny and just about everywhere we are told that we can be.  We are told that we can be anything we want to be.  Extreme “name it and claim it” imposters deceive many with the belief that “if we can dream it we can have it or achieve it”. This harmful anthropocentric worldview reduces the Most High to a “Genie in a bottle god) and denies the foundational Kingdom principle of Jesus having his way in our life.  Jesus told us clearly, “But seek first the kingdom of God  w and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matthew 6:33 HCSB).

When God called Moses from the bush on the mountainside in Exodus 3, Moses was reluctant to take up the mantle because of his own weakness.  After all, he was a wanted man back in Egypt where his people were enslaved.  Pharaoh wanted him dead for killing an Egyptian and his own people did not trust him.  God did not ask Moses what he thought should happen.  He did not tell Moses to name his greatest desire and it would become his (reducing God to a Genie in a bottle).  The Most High gave Moses his marching orders – and when Moses asked the Voice his name, God said, Yahweh: I AM!  This God is not to be messed with.

We are not promised an easy road that is free from disappointment and setback.  Each time Moses pled with Pharaoh and receive permission to leave Egypt with the Israelites, Pharaoh would change his mind and God would provide a plague until finally the death angel passed over the land.  Why did all this happen?  What was God up to in all this?  In the midst of all this God revealed himself to Pharaoh and told him, “I have let you live for this purpose: to show you My power  and to make My name known in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).  Here was the key.  It was not about Pharaoh and his greatness – and it is not about you.  Everything is about God and his glory – His Great Name!

John Piper lives my the mantra that “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him”.  So is God most glorified in us when we climb to the top of the corporate ladder, attain great wealth, live in great houses or enjoy great ease?  The answer is a simple one: “It all depends”.  “On what?”, you ask? It really depends on your heart motivation.  Do we strive for these things for self fulfillment or lavish praise?  Do we desire and ask for these things because we think deserve them and Jesus is our personal Genie?    

The Apostle Paul, the most prolific penman in the New Testament, had a significant problem of some kind, a weakness.  So significant was this human frailty that he begged God to remove it from him three times.  God’s answer and Paul’s response to that answer is telling: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’  Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Paul realized that God was most glorified in him when he was most satisfied in God.

By now you are asking, “What does this all have to do with assigning credit?”  EVERYTHING!  The secret to peace and confidence as a Christian is found in a life that glorifies God by giving him all the credit.  In our podcast Episode 3 my friend, Jeff Christopherson tells the story of a man named Jack Connor who would drive several hours on a round trip just to have a Bible study in a community with no gospel witness.  Jack told me that he thought he and Henry Blackaby had started some 19 faith communities in the remote areas of Saskatchewan in a relatively short time frame.  But to know either of these godly men is to recognize their humility and insistence that God get the credit.

Brian K. Rice, in an article for Leadership ConneXtions wrote: When you do what you do, and you don’t care who gets the credit – you are at a place of great freedom…. At the bottom of this powerful motivation is your desire to bring glory to God by doing what He wants done. When that happens – God gets the credit and the glory… One day you will hear the most powerful affirmation that is possible, from the AUDIENCE OF ONE. “Well done, good and faithful servant…”

Does is really matter who gets the credit?  It absolutely does!  We dare not get this wrong.  The credit and the glory are all God’s – for the little things and the big things – so God chooses and uses weak people like you and me so there would be no doubt.

Author’s Note: We are so thankful for the insight provided by our podcast Episode 3 guest, Jeff Christopherson. You can order his latest book, Venal Dogmata, by clicking on this link.