People have a desire to be know by others. All of us have an appetite to be known, but the thing about an appetite is it can never fully and finally be satisfied. The more we feed it, the more we crave it.
There is no amount of fame or success for your appetite to be satisfied. At what point do you say, “I am known enough.”
This desire starts when we are young because we all wanted to be famous with our fathers. We see in our children that there is something in them that wants to be known for something and known by somebody.
In ministry, we can get caught up on numbers ad what others think. We feel bad when attendance decreases. We might think self-conscious thoughts while we preach on stage.
There is no amount of applause, there is no amount of being known that will fully satisfy you. Instead your appetite grows.
3 Laws of Applause
- What is exceptional the first time will be expected the next time. Exceptional becomes “expectional”. A lot of leaders become so enamored with being known.
- Applause is intoxicating, and intoxicated people don’t make very good decisions. Those most applauded for, feel most entitled to.
- Applause is addictive. If you get it once, you want it again. You may even be tempted to manufacture it. Amen?
So how do we make sure that we don’t fall victim to the laws of applause? Let’s learn from John the Baptist.
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The whole country of Judea and all of Jerusalem came to see John the Baptist. Apparently, thousands and thousands of people showed up in that dry, dusty environment just to hear him. This is not an easy place to get to, but he attracted thousands. He is a phenomenon. He is known.
But with all of this attention on him, he chooses to turn the attention from himself to Jesus. When John did this, he lost two disciples to Jesus. When people confronted John the Baptist about him losing his fame, John replied, “A person can only receive what is given to him.”
John the Baptist knew when his time was up and was not going to try to manufacture what he had before.
Surviving fame is remembering who it is from and who it is for.
Your appetite for fame will never be satisfied by a number but a name – a who not a how. John the Baptist got it right.
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Thoughts by Kent Shaffer (the note taker)
The love of fame is a dangerous thing. May we stay focused on exalting God rather than seduced by the temptation to exalt ourselves. Consider this warning:
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
John the Baptist is right when he says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) Rick Warren says humility is the antidote of the pride of life.
But what it biblical humility? What is being poor in spirit?
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew Henry describes this as:
It is to be humble and lowly in our own eyes. To be poor in spirit, is to think meanly of ourselves, of what we are, and have, and do; the poor are often taken in the Old Testament for the humble and self-denying, as opposed to those that are at ease, and the proud; it is to be as little children in our opinion of ourselves, weak, foolish, and insignificant, ch.18:4; 19:14. Laodicea was poor in spirituals, wretchedly and miserably poor, and yet rich in spirit, so well increased with goods, as to have need of nothing, Rev. 3:17. On the other hand, Paul was rich in spirituals, excelling most in gifts and graces, and yet poor in spirit, the least of the apostles, less than the least of all saints, and nothing in his own account. It is to look with a holy contempt upon ourselves, to value others and undervalue ourselves in comparison of them. It is to be willing to make ourselves cheap, and mean, and little, to do good; to become all things to all men. It is to acknowledge that God is great, and we are mean; that he is holy and we are sinful; that he is all and we are nothing, less than nothing, worse than nothing; and to humble ourselves before him, and under his mighty hand.
It is to come off from all confidence in our own righteousness and strength, that we may depend only upon the merit of Christ for our justification, and the spirit and grace of Christ for our sanctification. That broken and contrite spirit with which the publican cried for mercy to a poor sinner, is that poverty of spirit. We must call ourselves poor, because always in want of God’s grace, always begging at God’s door, always hanging on in his house.
Now, (1.) This poverty in spirit is put first among the Christian graces. The philosophers did not reckon humility among their moral virtues, but Christ puts it first. Self-denial is the first lesson to be learned in his school, and poverty of spirit entitled to the first beatitude. The foundation of all other graces is laid in humility. Those who would build high must begin low; and it is an excellent preparative for the entrance of gospel-grace into the soul; it fits the soil to receive the seed. Those who are weary and heavy laden, are the poor in spirit, and they shall find rest with Christ.
Lord, help us decrease so that you might increase. We cannot achieve this in our own strength but only through Christ. Cast aside the weights of your life that are slowing you down spiritually. Clean out the clutter to make room for a greater filling of Christ, and then commune throughout each with God to stay filled. Enjoy it. Hide God’s Word in your heart. Keep it at the top of your mind, and don’t let it depart from your mouth.
The power of Christ and God’s Word will reform your heart and renew your mind so that humility is increasingly a natural byproduct that comes as an easy yoke and light burden rather than a challenge in our own strength.