My son just got offered a promotion. It would mean working more hours in a congested city away from those he loves, but he is proud of the offer and should be. In his case, a promotion means a significant raise and a leadership role in his profession. It is a vote of confidence, a round of applause, a hat’s off, and any other idiom that means “good job!” His company is offering him praise in a tangible way.
And a chance to get his parents’ affirmation.
He called both my husband and me to give us the news individually. He then visited us at home and gave us more details. It was THE topic of conversation through the weekend. Why? In addition to our advice, my son wanted our praise.
Likewise, my youngest son, knowing that his older brother was coming to visit, casually placed his last two trophies earned on the coffee table. In May, he had been awarded “Best Pitcher” from the varsity baseball coach; the next day he was named “Best Actor” for his role as the Beast in “Beauty and the Beast.”
He has since graduated from high school and begun college, but he thought enough of those accolades to get them from his bedroom and place them conspicuously in the family room where they were sure to be seen.
When his older brother didn’t seem to notice them anyway, my youngest son pointed them out.
“Did you see my trophies?” he asked, as he lifted them for his brother’s inspection while explaining their significance.
“You graduated, right?” the older one said, as if the significance of these trophies had diminished with the passing of a few months.
My youngest had just wanted his brother’s affirmation. I’m not sure he got it.
This week at work, the Marketing Associate began sending emails to celebrate the number of inventions that our office had licensed or optioned. My job is creating marketing campaigns for those inventions, and I was curious as to whether our marketing campaigns had influenced the various companies’ decisions to purchase the licenses to market our inventors’ ideas. Part of my desire to know is just good business: Does marketing make a difference? Is the paper campaign effective or are we attracting more potential licensees via our online efforts and social media?
But part of me wanted credit. I wanted at least the personal knowledge that my efforts had contributed to the numbers marking our company’s success. I wanted praise.
Because I realized my motivation, when I read these Scripture verses the next morning, I was struck that God wants praise too.
God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him” (Ephesians 1:12-14, emphasis mine).
God wants our praise. He purposed that we would bring praise and glory to Him. He sealed us with His Holy Spirit so we can know that we are His and praise and glorify Him because of it. Like me, God wants praise.
Scripture tells us numerous times that we are made in the image of God (e.g., Gen. 1:27; Gen. 5:1, Eph. 4:24), and I’m guessing that can mean that, like us, He wants praise. When Jesus was heading into Jerusalem on the day we typically celebrate as Palm Sunday, the whole crowd of disciples were honoring and praising Him. The pharisees told Jesus to quiet them, and Jesus said, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19: 40).
Unlike me, God doesn’t need people to praise Him; all of creation does. It just can’t help it.
One morning, years ago, when I was working the opening shift at McDonald’s, I got out of bed even earlier than usual to spend time in God’s Word. By the time, I got to work and got my station ready for the day, I was thoroughly praising God in my spirit, and when the first customer came to the drive-through speaker, instead of saying “Welcome to McDonald’s. Can I take your order?” I burst out with, “Praise Jesus!”
I was a little bit embarrassed, but I’m fairly certain the customer was too asleep or too much into the routine greeting that he barely listened. It was, however, a memory for me, one that reminds me that “out of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). One that tells me that Someone worthy of praise gets praise. Even if it’s a McDonald’s employee unintentional proclamation or rocks crying out or creation bursting with life at sunrise.
I am not that Someone, and all of creation may not be celebrating me, but I still love it when someone does. The heartfelt praise by my husband or parents or my supervisor or boss or colleagues or peers or children blesses my soul. Praise feels good.
It’s funny. Years ago I created a Pandora account because I want to stream praise music on my computer while I was working. My tendency was to focus on what I could see — circumstances — and become discouraged or overburdened. I knew that I needed to “turn [my] eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face” so that the stress and the hardships that seemed so insurmountable would “grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” I chose praise music to change my focus.
I also chose a password for my Pandora account: “Ineedpraise.”
I knew I needed to praise God to get my eyes off my troubles. Praising Him would remind me of His attributes and His blessings in my life. I needed praise music, hence the password. I needed to praise God. Praising God seems to come full circle, however, for in praising Him, I feel encouraged — about as good as I feel when I get praise.
Like my sons, I like and likely need praise. I like that God wants my praise — even if He can get it from other sources. And I like how it circles back to bless me, too.