Doing something really well and then giving God credit for it—-this is the antidote to pride. When you achieve something that you can really feel good about, such as hitting a baseball, making a sale, helping a client, making a good product, or connecting with an audience, you may be tempted to glorify yourself. You may be tempted to indulge in what the King James translation calls “vainglory” (Phil. 2:3). But instead, you can channel that glory to God Himself, who gave you the ability, the opportunity, and the vocation that made the achievement possible. Paradoxically, the great accomplishment makes you feel humble, instead of proud, whereupon you glorify God.
God’s glory refers to His surpassing excellence, His wondrous goodness, His infinite majesty. We glorify Him—that is, we acknowledge His glory—when we praise and worship Him. The Psalms are full of such praise:
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. (Ps. 29:1–2)
But Scripture says that we should also glorify Him in every facet of our lives. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). This includes our God-given vocations. And it applies in our mundane, ordinary lives—even apart from some great accomplishment.
One way we can glorify God in our work is to do our very best. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Eccl. 9:10). In Colossians, in the context of a passage specifically about vocation—husbands, wives, children, parents, servants, masters—the Apostle Paul says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23). “Heartily” means “from the heart.” When we do good work, we honor the Lord who called us to that work.
The passage also shows how we can be motivated to do good work. We are to work “as for the Lord.” In his great discourse on the various vocations in Ephesians 5–6, Paul underscores this point in his discussion of how “bondservants” (in terms of our economic system, we could apply this to employees) should serve their “masters” (we could apply this to employers):
Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man. (Eph. 6:5–7)
Imagine having the world’s worst boss. How could you give your best work for someone like that? Don’t work for him. Work for God. Doing your work “as to the Lord” will cause you to work “heartily,” and it also glorifies God.