What are you pursuing? Today, it seems easier more than ever for ordinary people to become famous because of technology. The ability to communicate with the masses is right at our fingertips. Even as I write this blog, it is public for the world to see (not that they will). Just like anything we do, more than ever, we must ask ourselves what is the motive behind what we do. There are tips and tricks on how to grow a following. There are the do’s and don’ts on how to gain momentum. Personally, I struggle with this. I stagger back and forth to pursue being known and reminding myself what Scripture says.
There is an issue that seems to rear its ugly head in the American Evangelical world, and that is the rise of the celebrity pastor. This post is not to point out those who may fit that definition, but I pose a question. What does the Bible say about this? We are at a crossroads with technology by being able to use it in a positive way or dangerously with the promotion of self. This is nothing new to life, it is just clothed differently in a different decade with a different tool.
This promotion of self is fueled by marketing that those with a large following or more likely to receive publishing deals, speak at large conferences, and receive perks. Granted, there are many gifted Christian authors that the Lord is using and I have benefitted from their writing or speaking. The danger that we see and need to be guarded against is that culture says you need to “be someone” “use your platform” and self promote.
My battle within is my desire to be known, but I keep coming back to what does Jesus asks of us, as believers. When you read through the Gospels, whenever Jesus could have capitalized upon his popularity he usually shared some extreme story or example on what it means to follow him and the crowds thinned out quickly. (For example look at Luke 14:25-33). If anything Jesus was fighting against being a celebrity. Daily I must look at my own life and heart because in Christ, I have all that I need. My worth and value is based upon Him. My security and identity is found in Him.
This is a personal reflection on pursuing the ordinary, what God has called me to do as a Pastor. Before I point the finger at others as I must point the finger at myself. This, wanting to be someone and be something stems from my heart. I constantly need to be reminded of what the call is for the Christian throughout the New Testament and here is what the Lord is teaching me.
What does Christ call Me to do?
Throughout the Gospels you see the danger of self-promotion rearing up. For example, in Matthew 20:17-28, Jesus shared with the twelve disciples of what he would soon face. He would face ridicule, torture, and death. He would be raised from the dead three days later. He shared something serious with his closest friends and what happened after that shocks us. The mother of James and John asked Jesus a request for her sons to receive a place of honor and importance in heaven. She said, “[Could] these two sons of mine sit one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom (Matthew 20:21 ESV)?” As Jesus responded to her the other ten disciples started to get upset because they were asking, what about us? Now all of the twelve wanted importance! How does Jesus respond to them?
He said, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:26-28 ESV).” The disciples were seeking importance but Jesus tells them to seek the unimportance. The pursuit of a servant and slave was counter-cultueral to them. It would be the lowest, humiliating position for one to have. Through this lesson, Jesus not only teaches his disciples, but he teaches me what I am to pursue.
It is ok for me to be unknown by the masses because I am known by God.
1. He has called me to be last
This is the call for the Christian. We are to be last. Maybe you are like me, I have a hard time with being last. I am the youngest child in my family; I am very aware of being last. I could be waiting for my food and someone who ordered after me is served first. What is my first initial reaction, why didn’t I get my food before the other person? Jesus wasn’t telling us that being ambitious or wanting to do our best is a bad thing. No, he was reminding us the position you should seek is being last. The seat of honor is not at the right or the left, but the last place. This being last means you are putting others above yourself (Philippians 2:3-4).
Jesus, took on the greatest display of being last by dying on the cross. He was humiliated so we could be honored. He was brought low so we could be lifted up.
2. He has called me to decrease
Jesus said to be a slave and a servant. This was not a position to brag about. It would be considered a demotion. I am reminded that is ok to be unknown by the masses because I am known by God. In fact, I am reminded what John the Baptist said in regards to Jesus coming onto the scene. He said, “He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).” I wrestle with this because of my flesh is wanting to be somebody. I need to remind myself daily, I am somebody in Christ. I am a son of God. I am a co-heir with Christ. I don’t need to try to be any body outside of that, I just need to be the ordinary, faithful pastor who is called to be last. I am to decrease and I want Jesus to be known more than who I am.
3. He has called me to serve
The danger with pursuing a large audience in any capacity whether it’s social media or as a public figure is that it can come across as self-serving. I need to be serving others and those are the people physically around me. I am called to serve God’s flock even when it’s hard and inconvenient. I am to serve them, they are not there for me. I am called to feed the sheep, not feed off the sheep (1 Peter 5:1-11).
Jesus modeled this before his disciples as he took on the role of a servant and washed his disciples feet (John 13:1-20). He did the greatest of
I am called to feed the sheep, not feed off the sheep.
What am I to do and to pursue? It is to be an ordinary, faithful pastor! As a pastor, I am to be faithful where the Lord has me. Faithful to the people that He has given me to shepherd. Faithful to His calling. Faithful to my wife and children. Thankful for what he has placed before me and thankful for who is around me. I am to be a faithful servant. I am to be last and rejoice in the fact that God has called me worthy to serve the body of Christ. You know what, I am beyond blessed and amazed that God would allow me to be used in any way!