“It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you stop caring about who gets the credit.”
While I nodded my head in agreement with this statement, it took me some time to truly process exactly what it means. Go back and read that sentence again.
“Caring about the credit” is the gold standard of how we get promotions. “Caring about the credit” is how we guarantee praises and raises. “Caring about the credit” is part of what it means to be human.
But how would it look if we actually stopped caring about the credit and actually tried to accomplish something? What if that “something” was advancing the cause of Jesus Christ in the world? Is that worth anything to us?
The Apostle Paul, the human author of Philippians, knew a thing or two about “caring about the credit”. He also knew a thing or two about the mission of Jesus in the world. He writes in Philippians 1:12-18a:
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
One of the many things The Lord teaches us through Scripture is trying to get us to see the big picture. By nature, we are tunnel-visioned and cannot see but a tiny fraction of the entire picture of life. At best, we see a small section of the bark on one tree in the middle of the forest.
This is what Paul is accomplishing here as well: pull back and see the forest. And shockingly enough, he’s using his own circumstances as the example.
Paul didn’t have an easy life. Whoever told us Christianity was easy and that following Jesus meant prosperity, respect, and advancement clearly never read Paul (or Jesus). Paul had a great desire to go to Rome (cf. Acts 19:21), but I think it’s safe to assume he wasn’t wanting to go there as a prisoner.
He could have told us as readers of the letter to the Philippians everything that had happened to him, but instead, he summarizes it as “what has happened to me” (verse 12). And even at the expense of his own reputation, he still espouses certainty that as long as Jesus is preached, the mission is accomplished.
That’s perspective right there!
Can we honestly say that’s how we feel? Are we willing to summarize everything we go through like Paul did? Are we less concerned that we get the credit so long as the mission of Jesus is advanced?
These are tough questions but Paul’s response forces us to consider our own motivations. He’s in chains because of being a Christian and he doesn’t care about the credit so long as Jesus is glorified.
When it comes to our lives in Jesus, let’s try today—at least for one day—to care far less about getting noticed for what we do for Jesus and instead have Jesus be noticed greatly…even if it means our chains.