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Do I Deserve This Award?

by Angela Caldwell

There was a huge difference between the public and private me!

 Why do people win awards, plaques, and trophies? Why are people recognized for the deeds they do? Why are people seen as important to their peers for something they’ve done? Do they really deserve the attention?

“This year’s Youth Recognition Award is awarded to Angela Caldwell for her outstanding work in God’s ministry.” 
I was at the Virginia/West Virginia Youth Federation, sitting in a pew between my dad and brother, when an enthusiastic young woman standing at the podium made this announcement. When I heard my name called, I at first thought, Is she talking about me?
“Angela, go on up there,” Dad said, interrupting my thoughts. I worked my way out of the pew and onto the stage with my mouth still open in surprise and my mind still wondering in shock, Is this really happening? 
“You’re being honored for your outstanding work and your dedication as a young soldier in the army of the Lord,” she said. She gave me a plaque, a gift card, and a backpack. I accepted everything and walked off the stage with my mouth still agape and sat down next to my family. Throughout the day my thoughts continued to focus on my plaque. I read it at least four times and began thinking: I have done a lot of work in God’s army. I’ve helped with the elderly and at the church’s day-care center. I play the piano at my church and school. I do deserve this plaque! 
The more I thought about it, the less I recognized God for giving me talents and keeping me alive to do all the things He’s allowed me to accomplish. I started thinking about me.
I didn’t think about John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” I just gave myself the glory for the deeds I couldn’t have done without God. 
When we got home, I was still transfixed by my plaque. I didn’t want anyone to dent it, and I barely let anyone even touch it! I went into my bedroom and hung it up on the wall.
A few days later, my brother asked, “Can I play with your ball?” 
“No,” I said.
I wasn’t playing with it, and I didn’t even know where it was, but I said no anyway. That wasn’t being like God at all. Instead of sharing, I was stingy and selfish. That was not what I had earned a plaque for.
Several days after that my brother was talking to my dad. Sometimes when he’s asking for something I think he doesn’t need, I have to get my say in about it. 
“Dad, may I have this cool race car? It’s red and—” 
“Don’t you already have a race car?” I asked. 
“That one can go only forward and backward. It can’t go left or right.”
“You just got a toy a few weeks ago. You don’t need another one. It’s a waste of money,” I said.
“You can wait a little longer for the toy,” Dad said.
“But, Dad,” he objected, “you said that last time.”

“You can wait,” Dad said.
After that I went to my bedroom. I realized that what I’d done was inconsiderate, rude, and a bit meddlesome. Those were definitely not the qualities I’d won the plaque for!
I had to ask myself, “Do I really deserve this plaque?” Mrs. Linda nominated me for the award because of what she saw me do for the Lord in public, but would she still nominate me for the award if she saw the things I sometimes did at home? If being a soldier in the army of the Lord applies to everyday life, do I really deserve this plaque? 
The more I dwelled on these questions, the more I wanted to change. 
In the months that have passed since then, I’ve really asked God to take control of my life and fix those aspects of my character. It’s very easy to make an idol out of many things—TV, video games, celebrities, and, yes, even a plaque.
I’m not perfect, but at least I can keep surrendering my will daily to the Holy Spirit so that He can make me into a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I try to remember to give God the praise and the glory for everything I do, because He should be first and foremost in my life.
Because God has helped me replace my pride with some humility, I pray that I now represent—in every part of my life—the ideals for which I was originally given the plaque.
Angela Caldwell is a student from Virginia. She enjoys playing the piano, reading Ellen White’s writings, cooking, and sports.

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