Trying to impress someone else isn’t a bad thing. It drives us to do more and to be more than we ever would have if we weren’t doing it with another person in mind. The more it’s possible that we might lose that person, the more we are usually willing to do for them. The people we try to impress most are usually strangers to us.
It’s terrible, isn’t it? But I would rather go out of my way for a guy I think is cute than for one of my brothers. I would rather go out of my way for a girl I think is cool than for one of my own sisters. I would rather go out of my way for a professor or a boss than my own mother. I think I do this because I know my family has to love me no matter what I do. Strangers are free to choose whether to love me or not.
Even worse, we do even less to impress God, who loves us eternally and unconditionally. The Bible tells us to do everything to God’s glory, but so much of what we do is to advance our own interests.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Wanting to impress strangers isn’t bad, as long as we’re not trying to impress them in sinful ways, but it shouldn’t be our priority. Impressing God should be our priority. If we focus on impressing God first, we’ll find ourselves loving family and strangers alike more deeply and more completely than we can currently imagine.