Many men smarter than me have made this point before, but after a year of coaching Junior Varsity sports it really makes sense to me. On the football field all of my receivers wanted to try to catch the ball with one hand and shout Odell, in reference to the Giants receiver that made this catch last year. Meanwhile their ability to catch probably doesn’t exceed that of Adele, the musician who sings this.
On the basketball court every single player thinks they’re a shot blocker ignoring the fact that you couldn’t slide a quarter under their feet when they jump. Blocked shots get the crowd excited. You know what they also get? Players fouled out because they are awful at blocking shots. Whatever happened to beating your man to the spot and taking a charge?
What’s crazy is I can yell, scream, teach, instruct about the right way of doing things, but my voice is drowned out by the crowd or the pride that comes with doing something really cool. The players replicate what is celebrated and it seems like we’re celebrating all of the wrong things. I’m afraid we do this in our churches and denominations as well. We pay lip service to the fact that God values faithfulness over success, but I haven’t been to one conference headlined by a pastor that wasn’t far more “successful” than I could dream of being. I have nothing against pastors of large churches, the ones i’ve met are genuinely Godly men. I just end up not being able to relate to them. Don’t get me started on the pastor at the conference that took his church from 10 to 1000. That’s a ticket for a bout of depression for me. Also, how come all of those guys are the only ones in leadership?
Once again my problem is not with them it’s with how prone I am to wander. If numbers are king then I’m tempted to bow to the idol of pragmatism to get numbers. My flesh would love to do some shameless selfpromotion to hang out with the big wigs. If baptisms are celebrated over actually making disciples then I’ll be tempted to just get some people wet. We’ve got to learn in SBC life and local church life to celebrate what God would celebrate. If we’re not careful our faulty metrics and measures become our source of identity and fulfillment. We start to believe that our identity is in our performance. With this we vacillate between pride and despair. We give in to idol worship.
Ronda Rousey admitted to Ellen Degeneres the other day that after her fight with Holly Holm she had suicidal thoughts. She said, “Honestly, I was sitting in the corner and was like, ‘What am I anymore if I’m not this?’ “I was literally sitting there thinking about killing myself. She goes on, “In that exact second I’m like I’m nothing. What do I do anymore? No one gives a st about me anymore without this.”
As I read that I realized how easy it is to fall into that trap. The world tells us that we are what we do and if we can’t do anymore or don’t do well enough then we’re nothing. We’re only as good as our last performance. As pastors, we feel like if we’re not growing, or writing books, or doing the conference circuit then we’re inferior to all those guys. Christ says that we are more than our performance, we are more than our success, we are chosen, loved, adopted, justified, forgiven, and called. We are so much more than what we do. We are radically loved by God. What if that’s what we chose to celebrate? If God called you to the “fruitless” ministry of Isaiah, could you be faithful? Would He be enough for you?