I was about to walk out on stage, in front of the biggest crowd that my band Anberlin had ever headlined for. We were all buzzing with electricity, knowing that in just a few seconds we were going to be performing in front of 25,000 Australians, who would be singing at the top of their lungs to songs we had written. We were accustomed to large crowds, having toured with bands like Linkin Park, Of Mice and Men, Smashing Pumpkins, and many other massive bands. The tour manager looked over and cued the intro music, and we all looked at each other in disbelief—Is this happening? Are we dreaming? The music started, and we walked on stage, palms sweating and hearts racing as the applause and pandemonium reached a pinnacle.
Despite my surging energy, everything moved in slow motion, and as I walked out, I could hear my dad's words—the same sentiment he always repeated right before each tour: "Remember, Stephen, you have an audience of One." And he was always right. The only person who mattered in that moment, or in any moment past or present, was Jesus Christ.
In life, no matter how elevated a platform God gives us, we must always remember that the only one who truly matters at the end of the day is Him. David, who was a horrible father, a murderer, and adulterer, amongst many other sins we as humans would have deem disqualifying, was still called a man after God's own heart (see 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).
Why? I am convinced one of the reasons is that when there was victory in his own life, David gave all the glory to God, not hoarding it for himself. Look at what he said in Psalm 118:15: "Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous." David knew God had given him victory after victory, but he didn't stop at announcing his victories or proclaiming his own righteousness. David went on to finish his statement by acknowledging the source of his triumphs: 'The Lord's right hand has done mighty things!" (v. 15, NIV).
The apostle Paul could've bragged about his background, his birth, education, and service, but Jesus gave him the ultimate reality check: all of that was worth nothing compared to simply knowing Christ, simply being loved by Him and belonging to Him, and simply seeking His guidance and following His lead (see Philippians 3:1-8). That was his truest joy.
It is wonderful to celebrate the joys in our own life. It is exciting to reflect on our own personal accomplishments, but don't end the sentence there. It is imperative that we give God all praise and adoration. Because David did that, "the Lord gave David victory wherever he went" (2 Samuel 8:6, NIV). The same is true for us as it was for David, and Moses before him: "For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory" (Deuteronomy 20:4 NIV). Founders of our faith made sure to quickly give God credit where credit was due, and we would do well to follow their lead.
We're all on a stage of some kind, and we're all responsible to God for what we do with what He has given us. "To whom much is given, much is required" (see Luke 12:48). So when God opens doors to lead a song on Sunday or become the leader of a ministry, understand that He does so with the knowledge that pride comes before a fall. And even if your platform is much smaller—at home or work or even in the checkout line at the store—He has entrusted you with an opportunity to serve Him, a leadership position to expand His kingdom, and a place on the stage to point your hand skyward and declare, "To God be the glory!"
1 Timothy 6:17