Christians love Jesus, his truth, the bible and hopefully his body (though much evidence exists to the contrary), right? So it makes sense that we want a part to play for the kingdom.
But there’s a little thing called ‘perspective’, putting us and our contributions in the grand scheme of things. So here’s a list I think might apply. And yeah, I’m guilty too so I’m kind of speaking from conviction here.
1) Making much of our gifts: You should not have to tell people how you are gifted. Whatever gifts and abilities that God has given you should be evident and especially from those whose lives it impacts. Telling people how well you preach, write, lead or serve means nothing if it is not evident to recipients. Just do it and let others affirm especially since the gifts are for others anyways.
2) Making much of our ministry: We live in a day of celebrity evangelical fanfare. “Look what God is doing here” “You don’t want to miss this” “Come an be blessed”. Really? Isn’t it more important for people to hear Christ proclaimed, receive sound instruction, and experience genuine growth and fellowship? Surely we are not the only ones who can bless people and something is amiss when we think we have the corner on it. Ministry, like anything else, can become an idol. Here’s a test: if your ministry fell out of your hands what would happen?
3) Making much of our opinions: We all have them. I know I do and love to express them (thank you social media!). But it’s not long before it seeps into the realm of self-importance and leaves the appropriate arena of edification. No of course we don’t admit that but we want people to know what we think because we think so much about what we think, right? Especially when we’re trying to prove someone else wrong. Yes and ouch!
4) Making much of our defense: Take all the care in the world to communicate and articulate something. But just know that sometimes you’re just going to be misunderstood and your position mischaracterize. That’s just human. Lashing out at detractors and defending to be understood waves a flag that says ‘look how important I am’. Observe that Jesus, the Son of God, perfect and sinless remained silent in the face of all kinds of egregious distorted accusations (1 Peter 2:21-23). So who do we think we are again?
5) Making much of our reputation: Well aside from false accusations that jeopardize the integrity of ministry leaders (cf 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1), it really isn’t about us and how well we are known. Think of that pastor who serves a small congregation, never in the spot light but highly effective. It’s a good feeling when we are recognized for what we do. But promoting and protecting our reputation not only makes certain the spotlight is on us but may lead to some integrity breakdown if it becomes important enough. We’re all special but really not that much.
Seriously, God has been working his redemptive plan accomplished in his Son for a really long time and has done quite well before we came along. He graciously invites us to participate so that Christ is honored and proclaimed. We get to have our special places from time to time but really, so what? He has saved us by his grace that we didn’t earn and could never work for in order that the good works HE has planned might be demonstrated for HIS purpose (Ephesians 2:8-10). We get good gifts because they are given. We will certainly encounter times of insignificance, misunderstanding, demotion and yes even flat out failure. But the really cool thing is that in all things HE works it out for good. Let’s learn some perspective the next time we’re tempted to self-promote, project, inflate and protect.