I am sure many of you already have a really good sense of yourself and how well you stack up to those around you. But I have found in my own life, if I intentionally don't work at it, I start to think I am really amazing. If you even do a half way decent job at your church you have a group of parents who love and respect you. They hang on your every word and seek you for spiritual counseling. In their lives you are pretty important.
The problem comes when you start to believe the hype and agree that you are pretty important.
Maybe you have had this experience when you have gone to a big conference like Youth Specialties, Orange, or Catalyst. If take your self-important version of yourself into an area of 5000 other self-important people. All of the sudden you realize that you are actually pretty common.
Let's pretend that you are actually really important. You have a youth ministry of 200 people in a church of 2,000. You are obviously important to these people in your local context. You also speak at camps and retreats. God has used you in these settings and in the Christian Camping world at this one camp out of 1,000 Christian Camps, you are really important. And let's say that you are so important that you have even been invited to speak this fall on main stage for Youth Specialties. Now you are really important.
The bummer is that for the people who travel in the Orange, Simply Youth Ministry, Catalyst, Acquire the Fire pond you still don't even exist.
I find myself consumed so often striving to prove my value and worth that I will do whatever it takes to grow into the biggest fish in my pond. And every now and then, God is gracious and reveals to me how limited my vision truly is. As I am striving to be king of my pond, God shows me that my pond is embarrassingly small.
At first, my solution is to simply jump into the next size pond and start my way toward the top again. But for every pond, there will always be a bigger one. For as big and important I may be in my current pond, I am totally irrelevant to the next one.
Instead of this being depressing news, it is actually good news.
The sooner we can get that the corporate ladder in ministry is a total joke, the sooner we can be faithful to the pond in which we have been called. I want to get this before God forces my hand and guides me not by sight, but by the bit and reveals to me that even the largest pond is pond scum compared to Him and His glory.
When we have a proper understanding of ourself, our pond and of God then serve faithfully, even as the doorkeeper in the house of God. I love the conversation God has with Job in chapter 38. "Who is it that obscures my plans with words about knowledge? (or about fame) Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me." Then God goes on for the next few chapters clarifying who is really in control, who is really important. And I don't want to spoil it, but it isn't Job, or you, or me.
The brutal reality of jumping into a bigger pond.
A couple of years ago, back when I was the best writer I knew, I jumped into the larger writers pond. I attended a Christian writers conference at Mt. Hermon. It was incredibly humbling and then freeing to get a bigger view of me, my writing, my importance, and especially my lack there of. I love the feedback those close to me give. They love me and want me to succeed. But when my only feedback loops are my biggest fans, I can develop gigantic blind spots.
A conference like this quickly made clear where I stack up. And the funny thing is that it only shows me where I stack up in this one tiny pond that is a tiny subset of the larger Christian writing pond, which is actually incredibly tiny compared to the Barns and Noble pond.
After of week of gaining a clearer picture of the pond in which I inhabit and a gut check on how important I really am, I have found a renewed freedom to be faithful to the things that God has called me to do here in my context, in my church, and on this tiny and outdated blog.
May you too find freedom in being the right size fish for the pond in which you inhabit. And as you grow in wisdom and influence, may you continue to keep in mind that no matter how much of a bad ass you are in your pond, your pond is tiny compared to all the ponds out there, and especially compared to the Pond that God in habits!