Going through difficult times, by definition, is never easy. I’ve often subscribed to the philosophy that I wouldn’t mind hard work – if it wasn’t so difficult. The same applies to life circumstances – the many, often too-frequent, trying times that test our resolve, our willingness to persevere, even our faith.
But have you ever considered that sometimes the greatest tests we face in life come when things seem to be going very well?
I was attending a convention where one night the speaker talked about being tested in life. He gave some principles from the Bible and offered examples from his own life, a series of hardships he had endured both at work and in his personal life. Most could relate to what he was saying.
However, as he spoke, a verse I had read just days before came to mind: “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives” (Proverbs 27:21). Tested by praise? Really? What does that mean? At the same convention, I had several opportunities to experience that principle firsthand.
At the time I was the editor of a CBMC magazine called CONTACT and had guided a major revamping of the publication, both in content and design. Before the changes, members who received it typically responded with a shrug. It was just another piece of mail, something they might scan, but only if time permitted. After the changes had been implemented, it became a welcomed addition to their mailboxes, and I started to hear many favorable comments.
During the convention, several times men I did not know stopped me (recognizing my name badge) to tell me how much they appreciated the magazine and the articles about people seeking to live out their faith in the workplace. Since writers don’t often receive positive comments on their work, my first reaction was to soak up the compliments. Then I remembered the verse about being tested by praise.
Instead, I chose to express my gratitude for the gracious words while mentally deflecting the “praise” to God, knowing that after all, it was He who had provided me with the abilities, experience and even the wisdom to make the positive changes that people were responding to. As Jesus told His followers, including me, “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
This admonition isn’t limited just to writers and magazine editors, of course. When someone commends your efforts on a project at work, how do you respond – not just externally, but also inwardly? If you speak to a group, or lead a Sunday school class, and someone tells you what a good job you did, how do you feel? When a stranger compliments how well-behaved your child is, does your chest swell with pride – along with your head?
Just days ago I stopped by my highly accomplished cardiothoracic surgeon’s new office and noticed a sign posted behind the receptionist’s desk. It read, “WORK HARD and STAY HUMBLE.” Knowing my surgeon, that’s a motto he lives by. Maybe we should as well.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com
, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com
. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.