Last month I launched my website and social media business accounts, and already I’m checking stats way more than I’d care to admit. I created these accounts because I felt like God was leading me to start my own business (which, for the record, I still believe). It’s funny how something started in obedience to Christ can quickly become about me and my ambitions. It’s scary how fast I can lose sight of what really matters. Thankfully, the Lord has His ways of reminding me, and it would do me well to listen.
In the past month, I’ve found a recurring theme in the Bible passages I’ve been reading: humility.
The first time this struck me was while I was reading Luke 14:8: “When someone invites you to a wedding celebration, don’t take your seat in the place of honor. Someone more highly regarded than you could have been invited by your host.” Assuming your importance in that situation would be embarrassing, to say the least. Imagine sitting down at the table closest to the wedding party because you’re “good friends with the bride.” After a few minutes, you look down and realize the place card setting doesn’t have your name on it. Not only that, none of the cards at the table have your name on them. It’s hard to make a graceful exit at that point. It’s the same in any area of life where we try calling attention to our own importance because we think we deserve it.
My calling is not to create followers for myself, but to create disciples of Jesus.
The opposite scenario showed up in the first chapter of John. At this point in the gospel story, John the Baptist had already baptized Jesus. A couple of days later he was hanging out with two of his own disciples when Jesus once again showed up. As soon as John pointed Jesus out, his disciples were quick to leave him and follow Jesus instead. This one really got me thinking. John had spent a considerable amount of hours paving the way for Jesus. Despite this, I don’t think there was one ounce of resentment in him when the followers he gained started leaving him one by one. I started to think about my own work and life, about my “followers” on social media. My ultimate job is to be a light and point to Jesus—not myself. Why should I be offended if I ever lose followers and they begin to follow someone else? If I’ve done my job well, then I would hope they are following someone with more experience and wisdom. Someone who can lead them into a deeper relationship with their Creator.
Even Jesus pointed the attention away from Himself. In The Message version of John 8:54 Jesus says, “If I turned the spotlight on myself, it wouldn’t amount to anything.” Jesus, the one who was about to die for the sin of the whole world, said the spotlight wasn’t intended for Him, but His Father. If the Savior of the world didn’t intend to attract attention to Himself, but instead, was intended as a signpost to point to God, then my calling is no less. My calling is not to create followers for myself, but to create disciples of Jesus.
It can be tricky as an artist or a writer. We want to draw people to our work, but unfortunately, that means we end up having to promote ourselves. I know a lot of us, myself included, feel kind of icky about this whenever we have to do it. We don’t want to be self-aggrandizers, and yet, we do enjoy seeing that “like” count go up. It’s quite the paradox. Of course, the point is not so much about the action itself, but the heart behind the action. If our intention as followers of Christ is to point others to Him, whether our work is overtly Christian or not, then I believe God honors that. On the other hand, if we’re promoting ourselves out of a self-worth deficit, we may get all the likes in the world but God’s kingdom won’t have advanced one inch.
The best thing I can (try) to do is pray without ceasing and continue to let the words of Christ inform my actions. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I can do nothing without Him. There would be no one showing up in the audience at all if He wasn’t drawing them. And He’s not trying to draw others to me; He’s allowing me to be a vehicle to draw others to Himself. What a privilege that I often fail to see because I’m so focused on my own goals.
At the end of the day, I want my prayer to echo the heart of John the Baptist, “He must increase and I must decrease.” If that means my “likes” go down, or never really go up, it shouldn’t matter as long as others are being pointed to Christ.