One time, when I was a kid, a friend of mine took me to a rodeo. All afternoon we watched the horses and their riders compete in barrel races, roping, steer wrestling and the like. One particular horse, a golden palomino, seemed to be winning the majority of the events.
At the end of the afternoon, the names of the winning cowboys and their horses were announced. Each winning pair would walk to the podium to accept their ribbon. All of the horses were still prancing and full of fire when their riders would lead them to the winners’ circles. All of the horses that is except for the palomino.
Whenever they announced the name of the cowboy riding the palomino, the young man would amble to the stand, his hat in one hand, the reins of his horse in the other. His whole demeanor said, “Aw, shucks, another ribbon?” The horse would just trail behind him, swinging his lowered head from side to side, lifting his hooves just barely enough to clear the ground.
Was this really the same horse who had run so many heats? Who jumped out the fastest when asked to? Who could chase down any steer before it even got started? Had he burned himself up and was now just tired? I don’t think that was it.
For this blond horse with the pure white mane and tail it wasn’t about the prize. The glory came from the competition, from the job he was called to do. It wasn’t about being recognized. He was in it for the fun of it.
When we have a task to do, we should do the very best we can. But not so that we will be recognized in the end. The pleasure should come as we do the job we were asked to do and in knowing we gave it our all.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:22-24 (New International Version, ©2011)