You’ve Succeeded. Give Credit to the Foundation of Your Success

Whenever people work together, there is always a question that comes up: Who Should Get the Credit? (And we’ve all worked on that school team project where somebody does nothing but still gets the grade you worked for!)

The human ego is an amazing thing, fueled by the survival instinct, self-interests and a hierarchy of needs and hidden agendas that would make Maslow’s head spin! I’ve often thought it should be called “Igo” instead of ego. As Chris Farley’s motivational speaker Matt Foley may have said, “There is no “I” in team, but there IS an “M” and an “E”!” But for my money, Igo is a far more logical word than “ego”.

Gimme An I

Igo certainly makes itself known in the business world, and it even pops up in the humble circles of Christian ministry. Maybe that’s why Jesus told his disciples, “And herein is that saying true, One man  soweth, and another reaps. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.” (John 4:37-38 KJV) He knew that the work he started would be a shared project.

There’s an old saying that it’s amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit. Jesus was reminding the disciples not to get too proud about what they were able to do. Their accomplishments were based upon the labor of many who went before them. Men like the Patriarchs, the prophets and even John the Baptist and his disciples had labored before them.

Credit Due

This is so true in life. Much of what we do, we accomplish because someone has gone before. Think about it: Can YOU take credit for learning to walk, or to tie your shoes? Someone else taught us to read, to solve problems, to be independent… you are who you are at least partly through the labor of others.

Before you roll your eyes at your elderly Mom’s lack of knowledge about technology, just remember that she’s the one who potty trained you and taught you how to use a SPOON. My own mother passed away over thirty years ago, but I know I owe her many debts. I also owe my Dad and Stepmom, my wonderful grandparents, and numerous other teachers, coaches, and friends along the way! I can’t even begin to estimate the contributions they made to my growth along the way.

So, to all of those of you who have taught me, who labored before me so that I could grow, I give a heartfelt THANKS! You deserve the credit for any growth I have or progress I have made. Each of us attains more because of what has been accomplished by those who have gone before. Isaac Newton said it this way: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Intellectual and Spiritual

In our spiritual world, the same thing applies. Without the labor of others we are surely at risk. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age.” Someone else has studied or lived the Gospel in such a way that it motivated or inspired us. Don’t forget to give them credit. We have all entered into a greater enterprise that requires higher stakes. It offers richer rewards than any business endeavor or athletic competition.

To every one of you who has taught me spiritually, or who has encouraged me, or challenged me to be about God’s business, again I say thanks. Believe me, I don’t have any illusions about who I am spiritually: I am a selfish sinner saved by grace. I have failed many times, and I’m still very much a work in progress.

But, there is a legacy of love upon which I walk, and through which I rejoice! I am blessed, not because of my own merit, but because someone loved me and taught me to continue past those first, halting steps. If you are laboring, I hope you will encourage someone today and have faith in the Lord of the harvest. And if you are reaping, I hope you’ll take a moment to remember those who prepared the way for you to be fruitful!

Credit Line

We all take credit for what we do– but when you’re keeping score,
Remember the legacy of love from those who’ve gone before.
They found some diamonds in the rough among your rocky ore…
Remember there were hands that picked you up from off the floor,
Who taught you how to use a spoon, to read, to do a chore!
They worked in you, you worked in me– and if we work some more,
Our legacy may bear some fruit, upon some distant shore…

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here:
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