I’ll be the first to admit that, as a blogger and podcaster, I daily battle the idol of the spotlight. I want my blog posts to be shared, my page views to increase, my listenership to tell their friends about the podcast, and, yes, sometimes I want to be noticed and publicly praised. It hurts to even admit that, but it’s true. I grapple with my own sins of pride, arrogance, and jealousy if I see my fellow bloggers receiving the praise and notoriety I desire.
As naturally as these sins come to me in my flesh, however, they must be fought by the power of the Holy Spirit if I am to live a Christ-like life. Because even though Jesus was the God of the universe, He didn’t hesitate to lower Himself, shed all the honor and prestige which comes with being God, and come to earth to serve us, His sinful children (Philippians 2:5-7).
The question becomes, how do we do this? How can our hearts be changed from hearts that crave the spotlight to hearts that are willing to humble themselves and serve behind the scenes? I believe there are five lessons we can learn from the life of Christ which will help us with this.
5 Lessons we Learn from the Life of Christ
To live as Christ did, we must seek to serve rather than be served.
In Matthew 20:27-29 Jesus said these words: “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” If God Himself can be (and was!) more interested in serving than being served, so should we.
In Acts 20:35 we read Jesus’ words that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. Though we don’t always feel like serving others and being served sounds like a lot more fun, it is nevertheless true that our ultimate fulfillment will come from serving God by serving others and seeking to meet their needs as He would have us do.
We must seek to invest in the lives of others (and not view that as being mundane!).
We often believe the lie that ministry, in order to be impactful, must be done in the spotlight, on a stage before thousands, on TV, or at least on a large online platform. None of this is true.
In order for ministry to be impactful, it need only be Great Commission work, which Christ described in these words: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;” (Matthew 28:19-20). You can be investing in the lives of others for all eternity simply be reminding them of the truths of God’s Word. This is far more worthwhile and important than striving to be the one speaking up on stage. Down through history it has been the people behind the scenes, patiently and lovingly teaching others – one at a time- to follow Jesus, that has led to the ministries of some of the more well-known ministers of the gospel we know of today, such as Billy Graham.
We must be interruptible.
Jesus was often busy. Multitudes of people sought to be healed and taught by Him every day. We read instances throughout the gospels where Jesus was His way to one place, only to be interrupted by someone else’s needs. He was never begrudging about this, however. He never thought of Himself, His schedule, routine, or to-do list as being so important that it could not be tweaked in order to serve a soul in need. May that be said of us, too!
We must be willing to work quietly believing that even if we don’t receive praise while on this earth, that’s ok – our reward is waiting for us in heaven!
Paul wrote in 1Thessalonians 4:11 that we are to “aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you”. He didn’t believe our mission as Christ-followers was to seek the spotlight. Our mission was to be faithful right where God had placed us, in the circle of influence He has provided us, and to seek to steward that well.
We must be willing to remain faithful in the seemingly small, seemingly meaningless things, realizing that they are really the big things.
We will never be given what we think of as the “big” assignments of being in the spotlight, ministering to huge crowds if we can’t be faithful in the seeming smallness of our everyday lives.
Jesus made it clear in Luke 19 that in order to be given big kingdom tasks on this earth, we must first be found faithful in the small tasks we have been given. Larger and larger ministries will not be entrusted to someone who aren’t first willing to be faithful where they are today.
Furthermore, if there is anything we learn through Jesus feeding the multitudes with one small boy’s lunch or His teachings on the mustard seed and its correlation to faith, with God, the “small” things are actually the big things. Don’t despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10) – this is where God works miracles, taking our “small” offerings and fashioning them into something incredibly impactful for the Kingdom.
Here is what we have to remember, though – while focusing on serving others is a great antidote to our common problem of always seeking the spotlight, this won’t come from striving. It will require us walking by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-23) and remaining in the Vine (John 15:5-8). How do we develop hearts of love that seek to serve? The Spirit cultivates those in us as we walk with Him.