I’ve spent a good deal of time recently pondering how I can be ‘more visible’ – whether it’s in my congregation, my work, online or in any other space… Deep down, however much I deny it, there is an inbuilt human desire in me to be seen, to be noticed, to be valued and to be heard by others...
In fact, these were the very human sensibilities that Satan played to with Yeshua in the desert – the very things from which he was able to resist temptation.
It’s totally natural: when we do a good job – we want someone to say ‘well done!’, when we are faithful at work – we want to be given more responsibility, when we feel we have something to say – we want people to listen…
For me, it has been a frustration in following God’s call to a new country, to go to congregation in another language, one that I understand but probably can’t quite teach in yet – so from being an ‘up and coming leader’ back at home, for the last 6 years now, I have no ‘public voice’ and therefore no ‘status/recognition’ within the body like I may have done before… (No, I’m not from Russia!)
So now picture the scene… Here I am, vacuuming my house, talking to God (nope, I wasn’t on my face or in any particularly holy place), asking Him to give me room to speak and share what was on my heart in my congregation, asking for space to share the things He was sharing with me, asking Him to give me a platform for ministry, asking Him to let my voice be heard, to give me status and recognition…
And while I may have spun it in ‘Godly’ terms, while I may have thought I had good reasons for it, what I was actually praying was:
God – make me visible!
Validate me through the eyes of other humans!
Give me status!
My security in You isn’t enough – I want to be heard!
Not unsurprisingly, this prayer wasn’t answered, but instead some other words dropped into my heart, a paraphrase of Matt 6:33…
Whose Kingdom are you seeking with all those prayers – yours or mine?
This was a tough one to hear. I had to (and daily keep having to) let go of my natural desire to be seen, my human nature, and truly “seek first the Kingdom of God”, and all that this entails… And do you know what?
This was the most releasing prayer I could pray!
The prayer below has released me to no longer keep one eye on ‘how the situation will serve me’ (when I am disciplined enough!)… I can go to my congregation and truly ask what the Lord wants of me, who He wants me to befriend or talk to, rather than needing to ‘cosy up’ to those in authority. I can do my job faithfully, and trust that my faithful service will be recognized when it needs to be (and actually it just was!). I can say ‘no’ to work for the sake of my family, as I know that in giving my children and S. time, I am operating according to Kingdom principles… If I place my treasure in His Kingdom, my heart will be there also.
In short, with my eyes on God’s Kingdom, my visibility and recognition is in His hands. My security is in Him and Him alone. I trust that He has brought me to where I am for a reason, and if my voice is being ‘muted’ for a time, then I trust that He knows why.
So that’s why now, I daily (when I remember) have been asking God NOT to promote me… You heard right, I pray every day that God WON’T promote me, well, not on my terms anyway…
I truly believe that God has said that He will use each of us for His Kingdom as much as we’ll let Him, and for many of us faithful service in our field will lead to promotion and a gradual increase of our voice among men. For others, that will not be the case – His Kingdom might be best served in keeping us right where we are, wherever that might be, and, dare I say it, sometimes that even means moving us to a ‘lower’ place in the eyes of men.
So, whether up or down, high or low, visible or invisible, I have daily committed to praying this prayer:
Lord, don’t promote me until & unless it serves Your Kingdom…