Yesterday, the mayor of Jacksonville came to our facility and spoke in honor of black history month. One of the benefits of working at a large company is that the local government tends to take a strong interest in our business. The presence of big companies can mean more jobs and a stronger economy. Hence, people like the mayor and the governor occasionally stop in to show their face. Typically, their speeches consist of the standard political agendas that you would expect to hear; the sort of things that help them win their next election. I am sure winning over the voters was part of the reason Mayor Brown came to our shop today, but the main reason he was there became obvious towards the end of his speech.
The Mayor had been talking about his passion for creating jobs, stimulating the economy, and making Jacksonville the one of the best cities in the world. Then he changed gears, and what began as a political speech, began to feel more like a sermon. Before I knew it, the mayor was passionately describing how he believed that every person had God given potential, and that he wanted to create a city that gave its citizens the best opportunity to realize that potential. It seemed like he was glorifying God with every other sentence. Then that man stood there in front of that group of 200 plus professionals in corporate America and made a declaration that nearly sent me to my feet clapping like I was at a church revival conference. He passionately exclaimed, “And I have to take this moment to thank God for giving me this opportunity. If it was not for my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, I would not be here today!”
I had heard our mayor say things like this before, but it was always when he was speaking specifically to a group of Christian believers. The situation yesterday was very different. He didn’t know who was in that crowd, or what the majority of those people believed. Frankly, I don’t think he really cared. He came across as a man who knew where the credit was due, and he was going to make sure that he wasn’t taking credit that was due to someone else.
I was speaking with a few guys after the mayor had left, and they were pretty excited about his speech as well. One of them began to talk about how Mayor Brown was a good mayor because he had a business background, and he knew how to run the government like a business. That may very well be true, so I didn’t intend to argue with the man as I responded to him. I just could not help but politely say, “That man is a good mayor because he knows where his strength comes from.”
Colossians 3: 17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” I have to admit that this scripture is a bit convicting to me. I sometimes receive compliments or accolades for doing a good job at work, being a good friend or husband, or even writing a good blog on Tuesday mornings. My first thought / response is not always, “I am not responsible for any of those things. My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gets ALL the credit.” Believe me, I wish that was always my first response, because it is the truth. However, I sometimes have thoughts creep in like, “I am so glad someone is recognizing all of my hard work,” or, “yeah, I was really excited to write that one.”
At the heart of the gospel is the glaring reality that it is all about God, not all about us. God’s word even tells us that when we give our lives to Christ, that He lives in us. It is Jesus’ blood that saves us and cleanses us, and it is the power of His Spirit that enables us to produce any sort of good fruit that will last for eternity. Therefore, I pray that compliments, recognition and influence serve as agents of humility, not agents of pride. I pray that we can follow Mayor Brown’s example, and use our God given opportunities to give the credit where the credit is due. Our entire lives are about exhalting God, not exalting ourselves. Thank you for the emphatic reminder, Mayor Brown!