Carol Kuykendall was addicted.
She says her addiction was to plastic trophies, but I think it was to something else – something that tugs at each of us.
Kuykendall started playing competitive tennis while her three children were young. When she brought home her first cheap, plastic trophy and placed it on the kitchen counter, her five-year-old exclaimed, “Wow, Mom! You’re really good!”
“I wanted more,” she says. And who wouldn’t? Not the trophies. That might not appeal to us. But who wouldn’t want the admiration and recognition? That, we all crave.
To satisfy that longing, some collect degrees and hang them on the wall. Others buy their own shiny trophies – hot cars, fast boats, big diamonds. For some, it’s the admiring laughter of friends at parties when they guzzle too much booze and do outlandish things.
At the root, it’s all the same. We all want to be somebody – to be recognized as good at something. To be praised. To be loved. We crave it. Without it, we get the shakes. And, sometimes we’ll do almost anything to get our fix.
An unemployed, death-row inmate wrote about that craving – and how to beat it. The apostle Paul, like everyone else had accumulated trophies. For him, they were religious accomplishments. They gave him status, importance.
But he threw them away and found joy in what looked, to most people, like failure. He came to think of them as “rubbish” compared to “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8).
Paul changed the source of his sense of worth. Instead of his own accomplishments, he now based his worth on the achievements of Jesus. Instead of trophies he had won, the only trophy Paul now put on his shelf was his relationship with Jesus.
So many people are unhappy because they feel so unworthy. And the truth is, they feel unworthy because they are! Excuse me, we are. We won’t ever be good enough to be worthy of being in God’s family. We won’t ever do enough good deeds, nor avoid enough bad ones to be worthy.
The good news is: That’s OK. Our relationship with God is not based on our worthiness - our trophies. Ultimate approval and recognition, if we are ever to have it, will be based on “the righteousness that comes from God” (verse 9).
No collection of plastic trophies will ever satisfy that soul-deep craving.