It’s been so long since I last wrote a post and so much has taken place over the past eight months that I won’t even begin to try to catch up. So instead, let me share with you one of the exciting moments from this past week. I was given the privilege of teaching our whole church family this past Sunday morning as we were honoring our graduating seniors. I spoke on how we navigate transitions and introduced the idea of developing the skill of “Transitional Decisiveness” based out of Ephesians 4:1. If you’d like to listen to what God had to say through me, you can hear it HERE.
You must understand how gracious my family at Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church is towards my family and I, as well as hundreds of others within our community. It is something I am most proud of when I think of our church. In this light I have received numerous emails, text and Facebook messages, etc. about how people were moved and/or hear God speak to them through me on Sunday. It’s been a bit of a surreal experience as even last night, three days later, people still felt compelled to compliment me or share how it impacted their view/outlook on their current circumstance.
Before you think this is some sort of desperate plea for more affirmation or desire for the ambiguous internet to lavish anonymous praise upon me, I realized something when I was reading my Bible this morning. I realized that Jesus may have been bit insecure!
Luke 5:15-16 says, “News of [Jesus] spread more and huge crowds gathered to listen…but Jesus would withdraw to deserted places and pray.” I rarely see among those with raising popularity or fame withdraw from their fans, roadies, groupies, congregants to places where there is nobody around to further strengthen their budding popularity and fame. These types of people are often considered aloof, out of touch, insecure, or not ready for the spotlight of influential leadership. Not to mention, as a pastor who spends 70 percent of my time with self-consumed adolescents (a characteristic I’ve grown to appreciate & understand because of this TED Talk), moments of recognition of my strengths is not something that I feel naturally inclined to retreat from.
But the more I’ve prayed through and reflected on these verses I realized that there’s no way a man who called the Pharisees to righteousness, over turned temple tables, and stood quietly in the midst of Roman interrogation could be categorized as insecure. Jesus’ withdrawal from the crowds was a great testament to the confidence He had in who He is and what He was called to.
The praise and affirmation of the crowd can be as addictive as any drug and can blind us faster than staring at the sun. One of Satan’s first attempts to derail the mission of Jesus was with the allure of popularity and fame. If God’s enemy could simply shift Jesus’ focus from listening to the voice of God and begin chasing the adoration of the crowd, the whole of God’s plan would have been lost. Jesus would not let this happen – He was too passionate about the voice of His Father for it to be lost in the noise of the crowd.
The crowd’s affirmations (or fans, groupies, congregants) are what hinders the mission of God. It is my own brokenness that can be exploited amidst the feelings of raising fame or popularity on any scale. Pastors, for our churches sakes, may we be leaders who regularly withdraw from the crowds and congregants so the voice we hear the loudest and most clearly is the voice of the One who as been speaking to us long before anyone knew us for what we could do, bring, or offer.
I love my church. For their sake and mine, I will work hard to find at times to confidently withdraw so I may abide with the One who knew and loved me before I had done, brought, or offered anything of worth to anyone.