Is it okay to want to be famous and want to be the best?

I’m studying very hard so I can graduate as a suma cum laude, but I’m a little unsure if my motivations abide by God’s will. I know the ideal reason to study hard is you’ll be able to support your family and help the needy in the future. That’s certainly one of my main motivations to do my best, but is it also all right to motivate myself by imagining how popular I’ll be when I graduate with honors, how the audience will applaud me and big companies will fight over me?

Also, I like challenging myself to be the best in my class. When I see a classmate score higher than me, I tell myself I’ll to do better. I mean no ill will to the classmate though, and I don’t always succeed in being the top scorer. Is that ok?

Another way I encourage myself is when people hurt me, I just keep my mouth closed and think to myself, “Don’t be sad, Jed. At graduation, you’ll show them they shouldn’t have done those things to you.”

Now, those latter three motivations aren’t my major ones, but they certainly give me more energy to study hard. Is it okay to think that way?

Dear Jed,

Congratulations on your achievements, and for using the wonderful gifts of intellect and drive which God has given you!

Of course studying hard is important, and competition can be a healthy motivator, to an extent.

Self-love is natural and necessary, but not to the exclusion of loving God and others.
I encourage you to prayerfully reflect on your goals you have set (as a student and for the future), and how you are prioritizing your goals, in the light of the faith.

Also, we are called to love as God wills us to love, now, as if today is our last day on earth. Our present actions aren’t just for the future.

Some things to consider:
[LIST]

*]For what purpose do you want success and fame?

*]Are you allowing personal achievement and fame to become your idol? In other words, are they more important to you than God is?

*]Are you allowing success to define your value or dignity as a person?

*]Are you stomping on others to achieve your goals?

*]Do you striving to love God, now, by giving him glory, with every thought, word and deed? Or are you putting it off for “the future”?
[/LIST]

Our greatest role in life is to work toward our salvation (Heaven) by knowing, loving and serving God. #1 priority!

And we do not truly love God if we don’t love others. Intentions or emotions don’t count. Love is action – every choice/decision we make should reflect our love for God.

We give glory to God by allowing Him to use us according to the Father’s Will. He didn’t create us to give glory to ourselves.

**I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35)

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind,
with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.
Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus…
(Philippians 2:1-5)
more: usccb.org/bible/philippians/2**

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?
Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.
They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
(1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”
(2 Timothy 4:7).

If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is the commandment we have from him:
whoever loves God must also love his brother.
(1 John 4:20-21)

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the father loves [also] the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
(1 John 5:1-2)

Holy Spirit Interactive commentary: Vainglory - Seeking the Praise of Men
holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/edwardpsri/theartofliving/07.asp

Yes, it is okay, but it works better if you stay humble. Remember, God did help you all the way, so, give the credit to whom it belong. And good luck. I know you will make it.

This is a good motivation - but do not neglect that all we do should be for the glory of God.

That’s certainly one of my main motivations to do my best, but is it also all right to motivate myself by imagining how popular I’ll be when I graduate with honors, how the audience will applaud me and big companies will fight over me?

I will refrain from saying that this is wrong - because I do not know you well enough. However, I will say that this is dangerous. Jesus speaks negatively in Mt 6 about doing things for the praise of others. The common thread is that in seeking the praise of others, one receives their “reward” here and now for some good thing and thus it has no merit in heaven. In short - the thing is being done for the wrong reason.

Now the above comment would apply mainly to the matters of popularity and applause. The matter of companies competing for your services is slightly different since having such a choice can allow you to further other good and important goals.

However…the bottom line here is that, if the motivation stems from an inordinate pride and self love…It is not good.
Far better to cultivate humility in all that you do.

Also, I like challenging myself to be the best in my class. When I see a classmate score higher than me, I tell myself I’ll to do better. I mean no ill will to the classmate though, and I don’t always succeed in being the top scorer. Is that ok?

Being competitive in this way is not a bad thing. Your desire is to do your best in an honest and forthright manner.

Another way I encourage myself is when people hurt me, I just keep my mouth closed and think to myself, “Don’t be sad, Jed. At graduation, you’ll show them they shouldn’t have done those things to you.”

Again - it is good to ignore such hurts so far as you are able. Just be careful of how important the idea of “I’ll show them” becomes.

Now, those latter three motivations aren’t my major ones, but they certainly give me more energy to study hard. Is it okay to think that way?

As pointed out above, I will make no judgements on the right or wrong in your specific situation. I will say that there are certain dangers that need to be watched for. The advice of a good regular confessor can be invaluable in this area. Someone who knows you more personally than we ever could.
That said, it is good that you are able to channel such things into the more productive avenues of study and improvement. Too often people allow negatives to beat them down.

Peace
James

Thanks everyone, you points are very well-made. I agree that my motivations can easily turn to sin if unchecked, that healthy competition is all right, and that I always need to put myself below God. I’ll continue to have these motivations, but I’ll be more careful with them. Thanks again to all.

but is it also all right to motivate myself by imagining how popular I’ll be when I graduate with honors, how the audience will applaud me and big companies will fight over me?.. Another way I encourage myself is when people hurt me, I just keep my mouth closed and think to myself, “Don’t be sad, Jed. At graduation, you’ll show them they shouldn’t have done those things to you.”

I suggest you reorient yourself.

my experience – I’m in a competitive profession and coach amateur sports – is that the best motivation is absolutely hating to lose, following distantly by loving to win.

those degrees, honors, plaques, medals, certificates, pats on the the back* come out of a dry well. the reason why you want to be at the top is because you know you belong there. if you’re playing the game because you want a trophy, you’re going to get a set of steak knives (see Alec Baldwin’s speech in Glengarry Glenn Ross).

you’ll discover this more when you graduate. you’ll be at the bottom of the ladder. in the post-collegiate world, after you get hired, no one cares what you’ve done, only what you can do now.

so pay your dues and offer up the daily grind to God, doing it always, with excellence.


  • the only exception is from peers.

Go hard for it, this world is competitive, and the longer you stall wondering whether you want to be the best, everyone will blitz by you. Whatever your chosen field is, do it to the best of your ability, why? Because you are the best and that’s how it should be. (That’s what you should be thinking anyway)

I’m not saying don’t be humble, but it can produce a somewhat of a lagging effect depending on your perceive words like that. Don’t be egotistical, but your competition should be obliterated! Let your actions do the talking :wink:

If one is living out the Virtues, then no.

If you want to receive ‘extra credit’ then you need to be humble and live in modesty.

:thumbsup::thumbsup:

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