I have been listening to Ellie Holcombe’s new recording and in her song My only Hope this line keeps moving my heart back to Jesus: “I don’t want to be a thief who’s stealing your glory/Will you help remind me of what is true/The only hope I’ve got, it’s you.”
It’s true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I’m out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them. (Philippians 1:15-17 MSG)
Thinking today about how I respond when others are in the spot light. As a preacher and worship leader it can be hard when circumstances mean that opportunity is limited for us and we watch others do what we love? our culture has created a super star culture where menial and hidden service has no meaning. Paul’s response is certainly hard to grasp when we are the ones struggling to see God’s purpose and will come to pass.
I grew up in a generation where the spotlight was on anything seen. We are hero worshipers so we look for anything that will make us the hero so others will worship us. It was there in the garden of Eden…to be like God. this craving to be noticed and significant and seen. The word leader is a frustrating one because a title without the function gives the role some sort of glorified status. Paul from the outset has called himself a servant. he is a servant to the needs of the people and this defines what leadership is…he doesn’t do what he does so we will worship him ,and the fact that he is a hero in the story is a by product of his life. Where does this craving for significance and being noticed and being worshipped come from.
This can be true in the work place too. When someone else gets the promotion or someone actually robs us of opportunities or takes credit for work we did. Although Paul is speaking specifically about motives and about the Gospel it does raise issues in my heart about my response. I know I have responded graciously with my face and words ..but behind the scenes my heart has certainly not reflected anything near what Paul is saying. We can put a smile on our face and honour others with our lips but where is our heart. Paul looks at those who are not int he spotlit and he is wanting to help the Philippians see that whatever the motives are if the truth of the gospel is being preached he is not about the spotlight he is about the message. I am not so sure I am as pure hearted or at least I would like to think I my but his life hold a mirror in front of my life and makes me see my heart. lord let me not be caught up with the need for significance and the spotlight. there have also been times that my fear of doing stepping I to the spotlight for the wrong reasons has kept me for being obedient. I don”the want that either.
Indicators of discontentment: that sinister and subtle thing jealousy when others get what we long for…that evil root of jealousy in us that gets us pulling down, gossip, crticise, undermining and hurtful side to us that is rooted in jealousy and selfish ambition. Paul faces a season where what he is called to do is short circuited. He is unable to do what he is known for…preaching, teaching, planting churches. Not once does he complain about not travelling and visiting the church and preaching. He is at peace about the containment and restrictions. Different seasons and difficult seasons have stirred frustration up especially if the season I am in has meant looking at what others have and what they do and wishing I I had what they had, but what I long to do is not possible because someone has said NO…how hard is that to swallow but how good for me in evaluating my motives and trusting God to open and shut doors. Paul was ok about going to Rome and prison. I am not ok when God leads me into a season that feels like prisons and restrictions and NO. What is it about Paul that he is ok but I am not.
How do I respond when circumstances rob me of what I thought was my rights…It comes down to entitlement…I feel entitled to opportunity. Where does this spirit of entitlement come from? I limit how God can use me when I define how it should look.
I find social media intriguing in the way we portray ourselves. We show the best of our lives and do everything to hide our weaknesses but we judge the weaknesses of our lives in the light of what others put on social media. Only the best parts…this feeds our discontent and is a complete distortion of truth.
Paul is seeing the impact of his circumstances working for good ..while his hands are ‘tied’ and he is unable to travel and preach, he still represents heaven to those around him. He uses this to stir hunger and curiosity in those around him and lead people to Christ. How often do we as Christians criticise those in authority when our hands are tied and opportunity is not forthcoming. The people around me are very unlikely to ask about Jesus ..they can’t even see Jesus because Jenny is in the way. I am currently in a different season but I have known others. This is a season when I am able to do what I love (preach ) but it hasn’t always been that way. I am in a season where I need to make the most of it and not take it for granted.
God help me to never make the spotlight about me but about you. the spotlight was never what it was about but somehow there is this lurking shadow of insecurity that needs affirmation only found in spotlight living. take me to obscurity if this is what. I do not want the light of Jesus to be shadowed and buried under a basket of jealousy and discontent and craving for what only you deserve.
Competition is healthy but not in church. Comparison and competition are divisive and destructive to the fabric of church community. In fact nearly everywhere we look, competition and comparison help us get ahead but at the cost of someone or something. As soon as we attempt to compete and compare in church we lose sight of the gospel and fail to create the culture Christ intends. They rob us of our joy and peace and leaves us deeply insecure and discontented.
‘I don’t want to be a thief who’s stealing your glory/Will you help remind me of what is true/The only hope I’ve got, it’s you.”
I feel this line is on repeat not just in my head but in my heart….I never want to yearn for glory, let alone steal the glory but I find myself a thief longing for what never belonged to me..it belongs to him and him alone…when convictions shows me loud and clear that my entitlements are not what they seem..it draws me in humility to the feet of Jesus.. Bowed low, surrendered and willing to accept my present reality as ok because it is not my will but HIS. The adventure of daily living as a worshiper …willing to worship not be worshipped. When I am tested to push myself forward I hear the shackles and chains of discontent clanging near my ears…’I don’t want to be a thief who’s stealing your glory/Will you help remind me of what is true/The only hope I’ve got, it’s you.” . When I find my significance in my role and in my title I have lost sight of who I am in Christ and what his purpose is in me.