Should You Strive For Greatness?

Gwen Smith Blog, Christian Living, Comparison, Confession, Devotions, Encouragement, Holiness, Humility, I Want It All, Social Media, Wisdom 21 Comments


In my spare time, I help coach our high school volleyball team. Let me rephrase that, because I do not have spare time. Three months a year I choose to invest daily in the lives of young female athletes who play volleyball at the high school where my children attend.

One of the games we play in practice is called Queen of the Court, the goal of which is simple: gain and keep the lead. Dominate. Be the best and protect your turf at all costs. Serve more aggressively, pass more accurately, set more strategically, and hit harder than your opponents. It is a fast-paced drill of skill where only the strong survive.

My life sometimes feels like a game of Queen of the Court.

I strive, set goals, create a game plan, and execute the strategy. I long to be my best (a good thing), but at times my goal changes from wanting to experience all of God’s best for me to wanting to be THE best (not so good). Look at me, everyone! Check out my people, my position, my possessions, my trophies-of-greatness…

I have to check my heart.

Am I striving to be my best in order to make the most of what God has given me—or because I want to impress others and be at the top of the heap? Those are two very different questions.

Too often I become fixated on aggressively spiking balls on the volleyball court of my ego, my family, my church, my community, my country. (My goodness!) To make it worse, I throw on an invisible jersey and play a game of Who-Is-The-Greatest? against the people around me. Aren’t we so good at that? We think:

  • I would be incredible at that position if the boss would just stop giving all the best assignments to other people.
  • If I use this decorating idea from Pinterest, my house will be the envy of every woman in the neighborhood.

We want to be seen as the best.

We want to be the best employee, work for the biggest Fortune 500 companies, and attend the largest mega church with the most popular pastor. We want to parent the smartest kids, serve on the most important committees, and dangle on the arm of a hunky husband. Our shiny pursuits and performances become our social media statuses the moment they happen.

Can I get a witness?

We boast. We brag. We strive. We show. We want. We need.

As I think of these things a hush falls over my heart. Conviction. Embarrassment. Because I often wrongly perceive life as being all about ME.

We live in a world filled with people who are famous for being famous and consumed with the greatness of them-selfies. My last name might not be Kardashian, but on any given day my heart can house just as much pride in how many likes my posts and tweets get.

Let me tell you a little secret: Christian pride is just as ugly as Entertainment Tonight pride. We Jesus girls tend to drape it subtly over our modest-is-hottest shoulders and wear it with a smile. Because our sin isn’t as scandalous as tabloid sin, right?

Lord, forgive us.

We all want to be great. And that’s not a bad thing in and of itself. We need to be people of excellence. Jesus told a story, the Parable of the Talents, where He taught that each of us is responsible to wisely use what we are given (Matthew 25:14-30). God expects us to use our talents, personalities, gifts, and energy in productive ways. The problem comes in our motivation. If we are striving for excellence so that others will be oh-so-impressed, then we are acting out of pride. Instead of elevating our Lord, we are elevating ourselves.

Lord, forgive us.

The fire of conviction warms me … bends my knees.

Queen of the Court is a useful volleyball drill, but it is not a game that Christians should be playing. If I really want to have all the impact God intends for me to have, then I need to be far more concerned with the greatness of God than with the greatness of Gwen.

The. End.

Peter reminds us of this in his letter to the believers in the early church. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5b-6, NIV)

Our job: be humble before God and to others. Stop playing the greatness game.

God’s job: to lift us up as He sees fit, when He sees fit… all to elevate Himself.

Dear Lord,
Please help me to focus on your greatness instead of my own. Purify my heart and be glorified in and through me today.
In Jesus’ name, amen.



How would you split the percentage of time you focus on vain pursuits versus fame-of-Jesus pursuits? What percentage would you like that to be?

How can you use your social media accounts to point people toward the greatness of Jesus? Will you? Tell me your answer on my blog or Facebook wall.

As always, let’s take this into a meaningful conversation. Where are you with this today? I’d love to hear about it. Have an awesome day in the greatness of HIS grace.


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Comments 21

  1. I have just started using my Facebook account to give small testimonies about how Good reveals Himself to me through everyday life followed by Bible verses. It’s amazing how God has been glorified. Some of my non- Christian friends have commented. Praise God!
    Here is an example of one I recently posted.
    (I have a snowman Christmas tree that was knocked over. His head was totally detached as was just about everything else.)

    Snowman down! ⛄

    I know I have been posting a lot on things God shows me through every day things, but isn’t it wonderful that He does?
    When my snowman went down I was a little frustrated. But then, as I started putting him back together again, God showed me that that’s what He does with me… a lot!
    Sometimes I feel knocked down, discombobulated and sometimes even lose my head, just like Frosty. But then, God gently picks me up, puts me back together again, and I’m good as new without any signs of falling!
    God is so good!

    “God, pick up the pieces. Put me back together again. You are my praise!”
    Jeremiah 17:14 MSG

    God is so amazing!

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      Bridgette! This is so great. LOVE the phrase “snowman down!” 🙂 Love the thought of God putting us back together. Yes on so many levels. Every day. Grace is beautiful.

      Thanks for sharing, friend.

  2. Hi Gwen! I love reading your devotionals! My girlfriends and I are just finishing up ‘Trusting God’ and have gotten so much encouragement from this book.
    I have been posting a daily scripture image on my Facebook wall for several months. I get a lot of likes & shares!! At first I thought I might lose “friends” but have come to realize that I don’t need those friends but they need Jesus!! Jesus is how I have survived the last few years and HE is my constant companion since my husbands passing a year ago! I have discovered a new peace in my life that helps me overcome all of life’s journeys. My mother, who was an inspiration to so many is in the transition stage of hospice, she doesn’t remember much these days and I know I will lose her physically soon, Jesus makes me strong through ALL my trials, and I am not ashamed to share that fact!!!
    God is good!! All the Time!!!

  3. I try to read and study God’s Word every day. I start by doing that by doing it first. There are days when I don’t get don’t and i feel I must ask God to forgive me for not spending time with him. He has done so much for me and my family in joyous times and in the times of struggles. I am not person who struggles with the social media but I do struggle with my time in getting things done and the TV hinders me. I do love
    Girlfriends in God’s devotion because they do speak to me and seem to convict me of things I take my friend Jesus for granted. He is a great God and one who gives me strength .

  4. Gwen— I LOVE my messages every morning. Not long after I lost my son— they brought me great comfort & stepped on my toes. I started sharing these messages on Facebook. I had no idea how many would read my posts— actually Girlfriends in Gods posts- I just copy & paste, but of late I have had so many tell me how these daily devotions have helped them. I know I didn’t write them, but I do share them pretty much every day. Thank you & the others at Girlfriends in God— you are touching many, many hearts and I do believe changing some as well! God bless!

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      Wow, girl. That’s so cool to hear. Grace at work, for sure! Love that you are being intentional to share what moves and motivates you. I’m sorry to hear about your son. Truly. Blessings and love to you, friend.


  5. I try to use my FB account to bring the Word of God into the lives of my FB peeps, many of whom know nothing about Jesus and have never opened a Bible. One way I do this is by posting a Bible verse or segment every day, which I call “Food for Thought”. From the “likes” gained, I know people are reading it, and I believe God when He says that His word will not come back void.

  6. Gwen,
    I love your articles and devotionals! Thank you for using your God given talents to inspire the rest of US! I recently changed churches where it was all about works, and “look at me! Look what I can do!” After being in that ‘family’ for 10 years, there is a lot of “unlearning” I have to do! I often wondered where my ‘red carpet’ syndrome came from?! Now, Lord help me to walk humbly and justly living like Jesus and Sharing His love!

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  7. I share my sermon notes weekly on FaceBook so those who can’t or won’t go to church can see and read them. Everyone else posts crazy stuff, I post my personal sermon notes weekly. This has become a personal ministry for me to share what I learn about God with the world.

  8. I love this article- first of all. I have recently joined a direct sales company while in college, and it has been taking off. The company is very new, and is on the list of top companies on the rise…meaning if I stick with it, it’ll go places. I love this opportunity, but it’s easy to get caught up in my own success because I am young and thriving in it. I don’t say this to be braggy at all, I have been using my social media to do weekly challenges with people about something in the Bible, pointing them towards Jesus. I shared this article with the other ladies I work with..hoping they pass it forward as well! Such a great article that really is spot on!!

  9. What an amazing word! I know I jump hoops and do so much but the question is why? Why do I do what I do? I believe there is greatness in us all, but you are right, after reading I couldn’t help but to think how many people have I left feeling inadequate rather than motivated due to my shiny trophies or words of ‘encouragement’. I strive for excellence …but at what cost? This was so good for me to read as God began to reveal things I need to let go of as intentions are not for His glory. Thank you for sharing this word, I will start in changing my ugly patterns.

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  10. Sorry ahead of time that this is long, but this struck a chord with me on so many levels, Gwen! Thank you for your devotional today!
    This is one of my biggest fears! It’s two-fold…sharing my faith on FB(which I do) through my life experiences and how He restored me, BUT it being all about me? Hmmm! OR being in a valley or season of doubt and not whole-heartedly believing what I’m sharing because I’m in the wait. I can real off my list with pride of what I’ve done to glorify God, but still have that lump in my gut at times that creeps it’s way up to my throat when I’m under stress, attack, or insecurity’s grip instead of being held up in my Savior’s right hand. So what is God teaching me in those moments…in those strongholds of feeling the pressure to find my calling, the One God has for me, and performing for an audience of One(no matter what I post publicly about Him). Am I setting myself up for something too great, only to feel the weight of failure again? But with Him all things are possible, so am I out to prove to God that I will just boldly go? Or is He laying out that path before me with various opportunities and I’m afraid? He knows I’m as humble, transparent, and genuine as I can be in all my crying out for His direction… praying and asking for His will, not mine, in all I do. My problem is what to do when you don’t know what to do, but you know it has something to do with glorifying the Lord. Am I being a perfectionist waiting for just the right time to start my blog,(oh I have so many titles and stories in my journal of God-moments I could share and relate to hurting women), to start that lay-person’s counseling ministry at my church which I’ve shared with Pastors and others, to serve and volunteer wherever bc I’m not working outside the home right now, and the questions are endless. Those negative voices of feeling unworthy, under-qualified, and under attack send my heart and mind in a tailspin. I become paralyzed at times and choose indecision as my way out because I’m in the wait. Is He refining me, is He saying wait, or is He saying go boldly and proclaim My Name no matter your doubts and insecurities cuz I got this? My sweet friends prayed over me last night at Bible-Study here at my home because I feel defeated but created for something more at the same time. I’m shutting down inside, but I must stay focused on that prize and push through the enemy’s walls…he knows my weaknesses, but I’m counting on God to magnify His strength on my behalf and for the Holy Spirit to pray for me when I don’t know what to pray. Like my favorite T-shirt I had in 3rd grade read, “I will keep on trucking” cause I do know perseverance is a prerequisite to whatever He has planned for me. Thank you Gwen for your inspiration and passion for us girls!

  11. I appreciate this article . I believe Christian pride is a sin seldom addressed yet all too often committed. I believe God has been working on exposing this in my life. I’m trying to be sensitive to the Holy Spirits leading in all I do or say. I have the gift of giving, but I have to filter my desires. Even in doing good, we may rob someone else of a blessing .

  12. I share bible verses on a daily basis on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+. I try to only share positive & godly pictures & articles as well. I have on more than one occasion been told what I had shared touched someone’s life in a positive way. And it came at a time when I had serious doubts that anything I had been doing & sharing was helping anyone. I think it was the Lord working through someone else to show me that even what seems like a small thing to me, is worthwhile.

    Thank you for this inspirational article. It helps to know I am not alone in this world. God bless you!!

  13. There are so many articles on using your gifts; but how do you first discover the gifts you’ve been given in order to fulfill his purpose for your life?

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      Hi Kat! Thanks for posting. I believe that you discover your gifts by considering the unique design of you! What are you good at? Baking? Signing? Encouraging? Math? Cleaning? Prayer? There are so many ways you can be used by God to shine His hope to others and to serve the people around you. Take time to evaluate your passions and the things that you are naturally good at – then pray that God will use them for His glory… and LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES to bless others in those areas! 🙂 And if you aren’t quite sure what you’re good at, ask those who love you and know you most.

      Hope this helps!

  14. I don’t have a social media account, so I came to the blog. Your words are spot on. As always, if we are putting God first, everything else will fall into place. We can’t put him first if we are striving to be first in everything.

  15. Yes girlfriend!!!!!! I was praying for forgiveness after every paragraph…. I am totally about the Show with an imprint signature” in Jesus name “or ” of course this is for God’s glory” but in reality I want to be the star of the show. Thank you thank you for bringing God’s truth to me today about myself. I repented and I am going to look up verses that will remind me to check my intentions, attitude and goals.

  16. I share pictures I’ve taken of God’s beautiful world, the flowers in the yard where I live, woodland walks, nature, along with scriptures and positive posts that uplift the spirit. I give God all the glory for what he is doing in my life, or more accurately, what he is doing through me and my life to reach out to others. I have friends that are not believers, but they know I love them, care about them, and would help in times of need. This is how I witness to others what I believe in my heart. Thanks for a great post! I especially love the statement, “Let me tell you a little secret: Christian pride is just as ugly as Entertainment Tonight pride. We Jesus girls tend to drape it subtly over our modest-is-hottest shoulders and wear it with a smile. Because our sin isn’t as scandalous as tabloid sin, right?
    Lord, forgive us.” AMEN!

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