We don’t like to admit it in the evangelical church, but most of us want to be famous. It is human nature to want to be known because to be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be valued and to be valued is to be heard. When God has given us a clear message to communicate in some fashion, we want as many people as possible to hear it, and we think that if we become famous, our message will become famous.
We convince ourselves that the pastors with the largest churches are “the best” pastors, so we seek to build large churches, male pastors get those “pastor jeans” with the cool designs on the back pockets, we add some cool black lights or some postmodern-y candles.
We believe that the authors with the most sold books are “the best” authors, so we seek to write bestsellers with unique titles that scream “this book is the most unique book ever written.” We think that worship leaders who have the most youtube videos are “the best” worship leaders, so we strive to make more youtube videos, drop some weight, girls throw on some fake eyelashes and guys try to come up with a hip look. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things; the real issue is that we keep our hearts in check.
Some Christians do this because they want to be adored and have selfish motives, but most of us do this because we want our message to be heard and loved.
Soon, we begin to find our identity in how many Twitter and Facebook followers we have. We get lost in the masses, and we forget about “the one.”
A couple days ago I was snooping on a famous complementarian (one who believes women should never lead/teach men in the Church or home) pastor’s Twitter account. I noticed that he and his wife are getting ready to lead a marriage conference and I instantly became discouraged. I thought…
Great, this guy (who is a master communicator) will have thousands of men and women eating out of the palm of his hand and more people will become convinced that women are of less spiritual authority than men. Women will never be equal to men in the Church. This sucks.
I got so mad, I slammed my laptop shut, stormed out of Starbucks, went out to my car and cried.
God, why are you allowing complementarianism to spread like wildfire if it is bad theology that oppresses and limits women? Why is this pastor, who I know loves you, so blind? How can he not see the truth? Am I wrong and is he right? Is that why he has more than 300,000 Twitter followers and I have just about 2,500? Is that why he has a huge church and I don’t? Is that why he has published books and I don’t? Am I blind? What the heck am I doing here? Are you blessing his efforts more because he is speaking the truth and I am not?
As I prayed with tears running down my face, God spoke so clearly to my broken heart and said, “I will always leave the 99 to go after the one.”
I knew God was referencing His Word, as He does most of the time when He speaks to me:
So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away (Luke 15:3-7).
The day prior to this whole struggle I had with God, I talked on the phone with a young woman for 45 minutes who had escaped extreme “Christian patriarchy” (think ‘Duggar family’ sort of patriarchy). She thanked me over and over for my blog and for the encouragement. She spoke of the pain patriarchy had caused her growing up and how she has found much freedom in egalitarian theology.
God reminded me of this conversation and told me to let go of the idea of “evangelical fame.” He said, “If your message helps to set one person free, you have succeeded in my eyes.”
Oh that is right, God uses us “small” gals and guys to slay giants. When we lay down our lives, we find our lives. When we give up the seat of honor, Jesus honors us in front of our enemies in His timing. Everything is upside down in the Kingdom of God. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. How easy I forget.
There is great freedom in letting go of the idea of becoming known by the masses. If my message reaches one heart, Jesus is pleased with me and I am content in Him. There are many preachers who become famous by tickling ears and teaching human-made doctrines. Speaking the truth does not always win friends and spending time to shepard one gets in the way of leading thousands; but this is the way of Jesus and I will follow after him. If I become known by one or one-million, I will leave this earth knowing that I did what I was called to do.
Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world -Psalm 46:10
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