I write to my own heart first today. I can easily fall into the trap of ego, and I can just as easily long for more recognition. I try to monitor my heart, but my heart can be deceitful at times. Maybe these characteristics I watch for in my own life will challenge you as well:
1. You increasingly isolate yourself from all but a select few
Sometimes the folks you isolate from are even loved ones you know care deeply for you, but you don’t need them now that you’re more successful. The only people you hang around are those who prop up your name and work.
2. You tend to judge others more harshly than you once did.
That’s because it’s easier to see wrong in others when you think you’re something. Self-righteous, important people set themselves up as the judge.
3. You immediately “blow up” if someone points out something wrong in your actions or words
You’re no longer teachable; after all, you think, the Lord has been using you more than anyone to build His church.
4. You subtly—and sometimes not so subtly—let others know what great things you’ve accomplished
Some folks often do this in the form of praise: “I praise the Lord for using me to do ___,” when what they’re really saying is, “Make sure you don’t miss how important I am.”
5. You have no time any longer for the “little guy.”
You used to minister to people regardless of their status in life, but your time won’t allow you to do that anymore. Others will have to minister to them because you have more significant things to do.
6. You like the stage, but you’re not so fond of quiet times alone with God
The former puts you on the platform before others, but the latter convicts your soul. Aloneness with God slowly disappears for the person drawn away by fame and popularity.
7. Genuinely godly people tend to quietly walk away from your leadership
You blame them for their choice, but their concern is they see something in you that’s not God-honoring. Right or wrong, they choose to walk away because they assume confronting you will be unsuccessful.
8. No matter what your current position is, you’re not satisfied
That is, you always think there’s something greater, something more influential, something more national or global for you to do. You can’t settle where you are as long as you’re seeking more fame.
9. You get jealous when somebody else receives recognition you think you deserve
It’s again the hunger that fleeting fame produces; not only do you long for more, but you also get frustrated when others get more.
Please pray for me, and I’d be honored to pray for you if you find yourself at any spot in this post.
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.