How You Glorify Yourself

This could just as easily be titled, “How I glorify myself.” Why do we do this? It is part and parcel of our fallen humanity. It really does not matter how long one has been a Christian, for we all invariably default to self. We fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) by glorifying ourselves and drawing attention to ourselves. Even our very best righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isa 64:6), because we prefer to reflect our own flawed righteousness (cf. Phil 3:9), rather than God’s perfect righteousness through Christ (1 Cor 1:30). So, how do we glorify ourselves? (This is loosely based on Paul Tripp’s two posts: 5 Signs You Glorify Self and 5 More Signs You Glorify Self.)

You care too much–and too little–about what people think about you. It might be fairly obvious when you try to please others–your pastor, your shepherd–so that they will think well of you. This glorifies yourself if you want to please people to make them approve of you. Fearing people rather than God (Prov 29:25), and needing their affirmation is to seek glory for yourself. But the converse is also true. We might think we only need to live before God and do not have to consider the opposing opinion of others. But if we only surround ourselves with like-minded people who primarily pat us on the back, we are also glorifying ourselves. It would be far healthier spiritually to also have those around us who disagree with us, who challenge our own fixed assumptions and paradigms, and who not at all impressed with us!

You struggle with the blessing of others. In 1980, three things happened: I became a Christian in UBF, and Rick Warren and John Piper began pastoring their respective churches. Today, Warren has 30,000 members, and Piper has written 50 books. What about me??? If that is not “self-glorification thinking,” what else is!

You criticize the ministry of others. For decades I looked down on mega churches, thinking that they do not disciple their members and that they mainly produce nominal Christians who do not evangelize others. But criticizing others is elevating oneself, and glorifying myself.

You highlight your own distinctive ministry. For decades I also thought that I had the corner of the market on Christian discipleship through one to one Bible study, testimony writing, message training, marriage by faith, etc. So I despised any Christian or church who did not do the “superior things” I am doing. Whether I criticize others, or highlight what I do, it does not give God the glory, but draw attention to how great I or my church or my ministry is.

You need to have control and have the final say. It is so easy for an older Christian to think that he knows better and is more experienced than younger Christians. Maybe so. But to need to feel that they are the ones in charge robs God of the glory that rightfully belongs only to Him and to no human church leader. If members think that the church is run primarily according to a leader’s direction, it only glorifies the man (his church, his methodology, his vision, his legacy), not God.

What ways do you think you or your church glorifies itself, and thus distracts from the glory of God?


  1. These are healthy thoughts and questions, Ben! I appreciate your self-awareness without being too “curved inward” (sorry can’t recall the fancy word for that at the moment…)

    Since I recently re-titled my blog “a public criticism of University Bible Fellowship”, your point about criticizing other ministries causes me to ponder. I’ve decided to keep my title for now, however, and don’t mind being called a critic of UBF because my hope is not to destroy the ministry but to call attention to unaddressed problems.

    I do find a narcissistic tendency in me to glorify myself. I find that public discussion is one helpful way to remove such tendencies (though I suppose blogging may have the opposite affect at times). But mainly I find that publicly sharing my thoughts allows my thoughts to be challenged in ways they never could be when I keep them to myself or only share them with people who agree with me. I appreciate ubfriends because it has helped me to see many different opinions and we’ve sharpened each other.

    Your thoughts above and the articles in your links show me the importance of balance. Thanks again for keeping the discussion going.

  2. It is “incurvatus in se,”–perhaps my favorite Latin phrase, since it might be the only one I know!

    I was just thinking that the re-titling of your blog might not be the optimal way to win friends or influence people, according to Dale Carnegie:

    Perhaps, you are not trying to win friends, but you are trying to influence people, and I was just wondering if that might be a prudent way to do so. Just some thoughts, that’s all.

    • Thanks Ben. You are correct: I am not trying to win friends. Yet in an odd way I’ve made WAY more friends in the past 2 years than in the prior 20 years combined.

      But neither am I trying to influence people. Frankly speaking, if UBF people want to submit to the life-time authority of a UBF shepherd, so be it. If they want to deny the abuse and praise God, so be it.

      I am “holding up a stop sign” to invoke discussions and publicly documenting “the other side” that UBF had denied for decades. What purpose does that serve? I don’t know fully, but I am convinced I must do it. In 2019 or so there will be another round of people who will need some reference points to make sense of their past choices.

  3. Many people who have been hurt by UBF have become quite good friends. This bothers some people in UBF, for they feel as though (correctly to some degree perhaps that) the disgruntled ex-UBFers are not overflowing with thankfulness for the “abundant grace and blessings” they received in UBF and continue to enjoy, but only focus on and rehash the “bad stuff.”

    Personally, I don’t buy such “guilt-tripping” insinuations that does no one any good. It is far better to take responsibility for our errors, rather than to take credit for our good. No Christian can ever claim the latter because all good comes ultimately from God, and NOT from the “sacrificial Bible teacher.”

  4. A friend, semi-jokingly perhaps, commented on Facebook that I might be posting often on Facebook to glorify myself.

    There is surely an element of truth to this because of our own deceitful hearts (Jer 17:9), where even our very best righteous deeds are filthy (Isa 64:6).

    So, how do we post stuff, and overcome the ever present temptation and our own inner default to draw attention to ourselves (incurvatus in se), so that we truly give God the glory?

    • I haven’t seen any of your posts, Ben, as “self-glorifying” (well ok maybe some of the cat pictures…)

      I think it is like the golf swing analogy, where we cannot hit a good golf ball by constantly over-analyzing our swing. Just be yourself, be self-aware and live your life.

      I think it is far more dangerous to constantly think about how to give God glory. Be a friend to sinners and God will certainly be glorified.

      Those who demand “Give glory to God” sound like the self-glorifying Pharisees when they interviewed the blind man Jesus healed.

  5. Shucks, my cat pictures are among my favorite posts!