Needing a Pat on the Back?


Why not let your work be a reflection of your desire to provide excellence for one purpose only: to honor your Creator?

Affirmation. Praise. Applause. Recognition. Celebration. Oh, we do love to be acknowledged, don’t we? 

Being commended for our actions means we’re on the right track – it demonstrates we are making a positive impact. It feels good. Yes. Everyone else says what we do has value, so it must be true.

Here’s your Gold Star!

In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported on consultants who taught managers the best way to give compliments, and about companies who hired Celebration Assistants to make everyone feel good about the work that they were doing. According to this report, certain generations appeared to need more affirmation than other generations. However, we imagine it might be a bit more insidious.

Parents praise, employers esteem, and peers use social media networks like LinkedIn to endorse each other. We are a society of achievers who pay attention to who is receiving accolades, striving for a personal pat on the back to be validated.

What’s the outcome of this cloud of “feel good”?

The Value of Work

Is it possible that we focus primarily on work that can be validated? Do we only do work that makes us feel good?

We’re guessing you’re shaking your head right now. Oh, we all instinctively respond that there’s no way we are a part of this trend, this need of outward validation, and desire to be noticed – this attention to how we feel when acknowledged. No way.


If the value we’re seeking isn’t being affirmed externally, what is the value of our work?

Could we long for our work to be a reflection of a desire – a desire to be diligent, and to provide excellence for one purpose only – to honor our Creator?

Shifting the Focus of Our Work

Let’s shift our focus from receiving checkmarks, to dedicating our work as a way to worship. Shift from seeking to be awarded, to demonstrating the unreserved love of Jesus.

  • Shift from seeking to be awarded, to demonstrating the unreserved love of Jesus.
  • Shift from sharing the expected opinion, to responding with godly truth.
  • Shift from judging according to society’s prejudices, to embracing without prerequisites.

What could this shift look like in the real world – in our work?

It’s all well and good to read and talk about not seeking external validation, and shift our focus of work to honor God the Creator, and Jesus our Savior – but what would our daily work look like with a shift to unreserved love, godly truth, and unqualified acceptance?

Our work in family and marriage – as worship.

Our spouse, our kids, our siblings, parents and extended family members aren’t always easy to handle. We have a history. It might not all be stellar. (In fact, your history together might be horrific.) However, we have a work to do inside our family circles, which is never more apparent than in this holiday time. 

  • Can you do the work to meet your spouse’s needs – even if your labors are never acknowledged? Can you do your work in marriage to honor God and His direction for marriage? [Ephesians 5:25]
  • Will you respond to your children – and your parents and siblings – by upholding Jesus’ direction to love? [Luke 10:27]  They might not thank you, and there’s a chance no one will ever notice, or know…

Let your work inside your family demonstrate selfless leadership like Jesus –  worship God through your work.

Our work – at the place we work. Work as worship.

  • Consider the reason God has you in the place you work… could it be to use you? It could. Right? Work isn’t always about you and your abilities – rather, it’s your ability to use what God has given you, for His purpose at this time. [Esther 4:14]
  • Could you make a difference in the lives of others at your work, because you accept, without prejudice, who God has made them? [Acts 9:26-28]

There is no divide between church Sunday and the workweek, when we use our work as a way to worship, when we lead like Jesus.

What criteria do you use to evaluate yourself?

In a recent Lead Like Jesus online devotional, the writer posed the above question. And it was answered by this Scripture, in the words of Jesus:

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”—John 17:4

Let our only needed “pat on the back” be giving God the glory, and completing the work He has given us to do. Work is the worker’s honor.


By Robert and Lori Ferguson


God's Tests
Os Hillman
Greg Laurie
Our High Calling
Dr. James Merritt
Are We Seeing through the Eyes of Jesus?
K.P. Yohannan
Five Things to Do While You Wait
Pastor Rick Warren
Follow Us

Want to access more exclusive iDisciple content?

Upgrade to a Giving Membership today!

Already a member? Login to iDisciple