So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
At some young age in elementary school, I made Dr. William Pressly, then head of The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, pay a dollar to watch me perform on the stage of my basement where I used the garage door as my grand curtain opening. I had no idea what an important man he was not only in the Atlanta community, but also throughout the south for his significant and sustaining impact on excellent education. I just knew I finally had a captive audience and I was always ready to perform!
To be clear, I had no singing or dancing talent to speak of, so I'm not sure what I made him watch...maybe my impression of Carol Burnett from the Carol Burnett Show? I'm not sure, but I am fairly certain that it must have been an act of love and kindness for him to put up with it and pay my demanded dollar. My performance was unquestionably about my delight in being seen and just couldn't be concerned with such matters as audience satisfaction.
When did that change? When did I become not just concerned with audience satisfaction but crippled by it?
He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30
There are certainly fear of man issues laced into the need to be liked, approved, respected, and even applauded. Nobody likes a show-off. To demand that people direct their full attention to you, particularly if what they are attending to has very little to no merit, talent, or benefit to their day, is not only lacking consideration of others but is just plain lacking in self-awareness. (Young elementary school children get a pass, I think?)
But I think its also possible that I have assumed that "doing everything to the glory of God"requires not just that I become less as John advocates, but that I get as invisible as possible. I have believed that any applause directed toward me is glory stolen from God. I have believed that any energy I receive from delighting in the use of the gifts God has given me are evidence that I am more concerned with my glory than His. But I am beginning to think that isn't God's voice telling me that.
By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. 2 Corinthians 7:13
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:16
When I watch something truly and wonderfully hilarious, that laughter nourishes my soul. When I get to hear live music, the performer's voice and lyrics wash over me with a power to penetrate my truest thoughts and feelings in a way that written words alone don't often accomplish. When Atlanta United scores a goal, I am filled with delight and a surge of pride and energy as if I somehow share in their hard work's accomplishment.
More personally, and perhaps giving me better insight into God's heart, when my children perform in a way that brings applause, I swell with affection, pride, delight, and certainly feel like their moments of glory are mine as well. I do not want for them to become invisible, to hide their talents, or to withhold their passions to avoid success as if that would better serve me or their Father in heaven.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:16-18
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
That soul penetrating laughter, music, athletic victory, and publicly acknowledged success is not opposed to God but from God, bringing Him glory as the One who authored the work it does in our souls. He uses it to encourage His people, to build them up, to strengthen and energize us for the work with which He has called us to engage. So then, let's sing, dance, play, speak, write, run, work and do everything with the greatest delight and freedom of joy without a misplaced sense of being glory thieves, because in it all He also delights in His children's joy and is glorified as His image is reflected at its best to the world. What compelling grace indeed!