Hey, I want credit for that!

We were talking in one of my leadership small groups recently how easy it is to pass blame. I shared about a video called “Damn You, Steve” from Brené Brown. I followed up with how Charles and I often now will call each other out when we think the other might be passing blame. We will say, “Don’t you ‘Damn you Steve’ me!” The girls and I had a good laugh, and we moved on.

After the small group I added the “Damn You Steve” video to potential blog ideas. I thought this would be a great topic and put a video in front of people that they probably hadn’t come across before.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m sitting in the service on Sunday, and I watch Keith introduce this same video to the whole congregation. And there you go. Over 3,000 people on Sunday watching the video.

One of the women in the small group saw me in the foyer after the service. “Erin, I couldn’t help but think of you during the whole ‘Damn You Steve’ video,” she told me.

We laughed, but as I walked away, I thought to myself. “Hey, it’s not ‘Damn You Steve.’ This time, it’s not Steve, it’s Keith! You took my idea.”*

Now I genuinely mean this tongue in cheek. I’m not bothered at all. Maybe he took my first idea, but as I reflected I began to think God had another lesson for me to learn.

If I am honest, there have been times where I had an idea, and then I hear someone else say the same thing, and they get the credit. And in those moments I’m not sure my heart always goes to a good place.

Many times, like this one with Keith, the sharing is simply coincidental, but other times it can feel more intentional. These experiences can present themselves in the workplace, in schools, in parenting, really anywhere you are engaged in relationships.

  • You share a great idea for the class’s Halloween party and then another mom presents it as her own.
  • You sleuth out great insight into a problem at work, share it with a colleague, who then takes credit for it at the next staff meeting in front of the boss.

What do you do when someone beats you to the punch or even steals your idea? What does your heart do when somebody shares a good, helpful idea that you had, but it works out that they get the attention and the credit for it?

In these instances, I want to ask myself whether I’m trying to help people so that I can build my kingdom or God’s kingdom. Am I interested in getting the credit, people looking at me and appreciating how much insight I have? Or am I more interested in the fact that good ideas get out there, that people get something that will help and benefit them?

It’s the kind of question I suspect that the Apostle Paul had to wrestle with. He was in prison, and some people were proclaiming Christ in order to get him in more trouble. In that case, it’s not just about somebody else getting the credit, but Paul potentially getting the discredit. But that wasn’t a big deal to him. He said, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).

That’s a perspective I want to keep cultivating. It’s about Christ and whether people know him. It’s about whether people get a chance to grow in life and hear wisdom that will have an impact on them. It’s not about me, or even about that other person getting the credit. I don’t need to worry about my reputation, because God has made me his daughter, and I have all the reputation with him that I could ever want.

And the kicker, of course, is that it’s not like any idea is ever original to me. I got the Brené Brown video from a friend. And we both learned about her from a class that John Tinnin taught where he showed a different video by Brené Brown. And Brown probably got her point from someone else, and so on.

Paul got it right again when he asked the Corinthians who were boasting about how great they were. “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Everything that we have that’s good or true comes ultimately from God and his grace. Humbly, I need to be reminded that everything I’ve learned, no matter how I learned it, came ultimately from God, and it’s his gift to pass on through me to someone else.

* I don’t want to use the word “damn” flippantly. While culturally it may not as “bad” as other curse words, actually it’s one of the most serious when we think about what it means. I’m using it here rhetorically only in the context of the video using it.

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