“I need to be made willing to be forgotten.”
This quote has been jarring my heart for the past few days. In the past I read it with a great deal of stupidity. I read it as if it was sort of tongue in cheek. As if McCheyne is saying, “If I really want to be made great…then I need to be made willing to be forgotten”. The way to greatness is to not really pursue it. And so if you want to secretly pursue greatness the way to do it is to pursue humility and in the end you’ll be made great.
Oddly enough that philosophy is probably correct. Scripture is clear that the way to be made great is to become the servant of all. To be exalted by God you don’t pursue exaltation you pursue humility.
But here is where I have been dumb. Those aren’t tongue in cheek statements. The idol of greatness needs to topple not just pursued through godly means. If I’m still pursuing my name being great—even if I’m trying to do it through sneaking in the back door of humility—all I will ever muster is mock humility and self-forgetfulness.
Help From David Murray
As I was praying through what the Lord was doing in my soul I remembered an article that David Murray had written back in June about leaving a legacy. It was a great article encouraging us to not live for a legacy. Looking back I think this article was used by the Lord to pry His sandal into the door of this heart idol of mine.
One of the statements that David made in that post was this: “most of us have ordinary ministries, and our ministries will die with us.” That stings. And not because I want to be useful to the Lord. That stings because I want to be remembered. I want to be a difference maker. Often not for the sake of actually making a difference but so that I can park in the space that says “Difference Maker”.
I read Murray’s article again and another statement floored me. “I’d rather my children know Christ than people know who David Murray is a hundred years from now.” That statement pierced my soul. In my head and in my heart I really do believe that same thing. Or at least I want to. But when reality sets in the truth is that I’m probably more passionate about being remembered as a great dad than actually being one.
David is living the same thing that McCheyne said over 150 years ago, “I need to be made willing to be forgotten”.
Forgotten But Useful
This is not a call to be lazy. It is a call to pursue usefulness and let the Lord decide our legacy. I am learning now that this is not a tongue in cheek promise. As if I faithfully plod along and pursue usefulness that someday he’ll make me a nice legacy. I am learning now that this is a fool’s pursuit. My aim is Christ and being made useful as a servant to Him.
Useful means that he decides the rhythm of my ministry. It means that my chief aim, which is already mine, is to be remembered by God and to make my life ambition to make sure that He is the remembered one and not me. As Zack Eswine reminds us that is a good thing. “Being remembered by him means we no longer fear being forgotten by the world”. (Sensing Jesus, 19)
One of my favorite quotes is now taking on new life, “No man can bear witness to Christ and to himself at the same time. No man can give the impression that he himself is clever and that Christ is mighty to save.” Pointing to Jesus isn’t a backdoor way of robbing glory and making myself an exalted preacher. Pointing to Jesus is the end in itself. Period.
Lord Jesus, forgive me of foolishness. Forgive me of attempting to rob you of glory. Forgive me for all of the times that I expected You to quote me. I have been a fool. Thank you for grace. Thank you for patience. Thank you for exposing this idol in my heart. I pray as McCheyne did some 150 years, “make me willing to be forgotten”. You will be remembered. And this is my greatest good.