In my country we tend to think “big” is better…bigger is best, biggest is even better yet! The larger the crowd, the more important you think you are. We focus on the size of houses, cars, bank accounts… We tend to be attracted to the flashy, to hype. The better the PR, the better we think it is. If a person gets lots of press coverage we think they are important and what they have to say is relevant. Mr. Trump is a master at that!
I thought it was very telling when the Pope came to the US last year and he was driven – not in the regular big, black limo but in a small Fiat! It was fun to listen to the news commentators as they talked bout it. It was such an unusual sight to see a man the world reveres and whose fame is larger than most anyone’s, humbly riding in a small automobile! He was perfectly happy and content. I do have a feeling if he had had his way he would prefer to get out and walk among the people – the ordinary everyday people. He didn’t seem too impressed with the trappings of his status or the “important” people who flocked to shake his hand. I love that he visited prisoners and the handicapped. He was genuinely touched by the simple people.
I confess that I can be “impressed”. I do a double-take when a long black limo drives by…or I see someone step out of their private jet (I admit I do envy a private jet!)…but that’s not in my future anytime soon! We are infected with celebrity – even in churches. Often a church is known not by its denominational affiliation or missions giving or doctrinal position but by the pastor’s name and his status. We tend to mention how many books the pastor has published, how many members on the roles, how many Sunday services they have, the size of the ministerial staff…
I don’t have anything against success – far from it. I think it is great but it is not the way God counts success in His kingdom. If we read the scripture it doesn’t take long to realize God does things hind-part before! Backwards. Upside down. To live you must die. To gain you have to loose. You have to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, give your coat and your shirt. Not what a PR firm would recommend for a successful business model!
Let me be the first to say, I think it is terrific when God grows a ministry, a business, a bank account by numbers. But it is not the only measure.
We like to think success is related to size – it isn’t. Success is related to faithfulness and humility and obedience. Ouch! People often tell me how God is going to honor my Father for the many who came to Christ through his preaching. And I am sure God will on some level. But I always mention God won’t honor the numbers but rather, the faithfulness and obedience of my Father. Just like He will honor the faithful school teacher, the faithful cab driver, dishwasher, small church pastor, Sunday school teacher. Those who serve His faithfully and obediently in obscurity.
Are you feeling obscure, unimportant? God sees your labor on His behalf. God is pointing you out to a great crowd of witnesses saying, “Look at that one. They are serving me faithfully. That’s one of my trophies!”
I’d rather have that. As the dear soloist, George Beverly Shea, sang so sweetly, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I’d rather be His than have riches untold; I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands. I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand. I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause; I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause; I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame. I’d rather be rue to His holy name. Then to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sin’s dread sway. I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.”