Over a year ago I posted on the topic of Freedom from Perfectionism. In the comments section of the post, my blogger friend, Judy, and I talked books. I told her that I planned to read a book called For An Audience of One: Seek the Praise That Comes From God Alone by R.T. Kendall. I told Judy I would write about it on my blog at some point. But I also warned her that it would take me awhile to get to it. And I was right! I didn’t think it would be over a year. But here I am. And you guys get to come along for the ride. But I think you will enjoy this too.
About the author: The author of the book is R.T. Kendall, who was born in Kentucky. But for twenty-five years he was the Minister at Westminster Chapel in London. He is now retired in Florida. You can read more about him here. This is the second book I have read by this author. And I have to wonder why I have not heard a lot more about him. I have loved both books that I read by Kendall. He writes in a very down-to-earth manner. His words are clear and easy to understand. Yet he also provides a wealth of insight and information. He looks at the topic of each book from so many angles, some of which that take the reader by surprise. And he really knows his stuff. I will definitely be reading more of this author’s books.
About the book: The title of this book should help you to see what this book is about. Basically the idea is that we should live our lives for an audience of One. Everything we say, everything we do, everything we think – we should keep God in mind. He knows all. And He knows our motives. So even if we do the right thing, we might need to question “why” we are doing it.
We should live for God’s glory alone, and not seek the glory of people. The author referenced a particular Bible verse throughout the book. It is one the author has tried to live by all his life. “How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” – John 5:44
Mr. Kendall says, “If we could intentionally imagine an audience of One—Jesus Himself—is eavesdropping on our every conversation, it could save us from a lot of regret and stress.”
However, the author also points out the fact that “the knowledge that He knows is the most comforting thought I can think of. He knows when I am low. When I am mistreated. When I am spoken evil of. When I am lied about. When I am under financial pressure. When I am ill. When I am depressed. God knows. Hallelujah!”
Minister Kendall touched on various tentacles of this topic. And honestly, some surprised me. He went down avenues that I would never have considered. But everything he touched on was intriguing. For example, there was a chapter in the book dedicated to America’s Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s. This was a time when many people were turning away from God. However, the Holy Spirit moved through certain communities and caused a great revival. This was interesting to read about.
The author touched on numerous other key points. He wrote about the integrity of Jesus, the Heroes of faith that are mentioned in Hebrews 11, and the day of judgement, just to name a few points.
One story that really blew me away in this book came from the Bible. I have read it before. But when the author of this book wrote about it, it really struck me. The story is found in 2 Kings 5. Naaman, who was the king of Aram, went to the prophet Elisha to seek healing from leprosy. Long story short, Elisha gave him advice to wash himself seven times in the Jordan. The king initially didn’t like the advice. But he ended up doing it, and he was healed. He tried to give Elisha a gift to show his gratitude, but Elisha didn’t accept it. As Naaman was traveling home, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, got a little greedy. He went after Naaman and told him that Elisha changed his mind and did want a gift after all, and the king gave the servant a gift. But Elisha being an anointed prophet, knew what his servant did. And the servant was punished with the leprosy that had left Naaman.
But this is the point that Mr. Kendall made that really hit me – “Elisha does not command Gehazi to go and tell Naaman the truth. This would seem to be a natural thing for Elisha to do—to make sure that Naaman did not believe that Elisha put Gehazi up to what he did. But Elisha did nothing. He did not even bother to protect his own reputation with Naaman; he let him think whatever he willed. This to me is amazing. Elisha knew that God knew the truth. Even though Elisha wanted to teach Naaman a lesson, namely, to let Naaman see what the God of Israel is like, Elisha still did not try clear his name before Naaman. All Elisha did was for an audience of One. That is what mattered to Elisha—that God Himself knew. Elisha wanted the praise that comes from God only.”
I think most of us would want to clear our names in this kind of a situation. But this brings home the point of what living for an audience of One really looks like. There is such freedom in not caring what other people think. We need only worry about what our Almighty God thinks.
In the book, the author even shares a prayer towards the end of the book for nonbelievers to accept Jesus into their lives. I really appreciated that, and I often wonder why we don’t see more of that in Christian nonfiction books.
Conclusion: This book is outstanding and is now among my all-time favorites. I highly recommend it for all Christians, and really for anyone. This book will help believers and nonbelievers alike to think about their lives and their actions. One way to consider the value of a book is to ask the question – Did this book change me for the better? If you can say yes, then the book is well worth the read. And this book most definitely falls into that category. I will end with a quote from the book – “… if we could remember to speak and act as though there were no one else present but Jesus Christ Himself, it could be life-changing.”