For over half my life I had an unrelenting desire to stand on a big stage to give voice to my thoughts and ideas. Oh, I thought I wanted to do it for God, since those who seemed to hold the stage spoke so poorly of his truth and rarely demonstrated his character off of it. I thought I would be different in those same circumstances and spent many years in frustration because I couldn’t get the platform I thought I deserved.
Then that kind of thinking didn’t seem near as arrogant at the time as it feels typing it out today. It was for the kingdom after all, or so I thought, even though Jesus never sought the limelight, even though he chose Galilee over Jerusalem. And over the years I’ve watched people who thought they could dwell in the limelight and remain unseduced by its power. Precious few have succeeded. And I’ve watched dear friends become a shell of their former selves trying to hold the stage and live in that self-serving culture that forms around so-called celebrities. At some point it becomes more about power, money, and acclaim than it does letting Jesus’ light shine into the world.
I’ve been close to this world in the last few years and the amount of dishonesty and corruption that it takes to live there sickens me. Over the years of learning to live loved my desire to be on a stage surreptitiously vanished. I discovered it is not the environment in which God moves best and have enjoyed far more the value of smaller conversations from 2s and 3s to 30 and 40. That’s a far better environment for honesty and help to really happen. I have relished the last couple of decades and the people I’ve gotten to know and the conversations about life and grace I’ve been a part of.
I just had a conversation this week with someone who used to work for a big-name in Christendom and to hear how much insecurity and how little character existed behind the scenes only affirms to me that we know nothing about someone’s heart or character when we’re just watching their giftedness on a stage.
Earlier this week this quote found it’s way into my inbox, and it helped me recognize the truth behind what God has been doing in my heart for a very long time.
Christ was crucified because he would have nothing to do with the crowd (even though he addressed himself to all). He did not want to form a party, an interest group, or a mass movement, but wanted to be what he was, the truth, which is related to the single individual. Therefore everyone who will genuinely serve the truth is by that very fact a martyr. To win a crowd is no art; for that only untruth is needed, nonsense, and a little knowledge of human passions. But no witness to the truth dares to get involved with the crowd.
Søren Kierkegaard in Provocations
If I could say anything to the Wayne of thirty years ago, or a young person like him today, it would be to forget the limelight. The fame and notoriety are a trap. It pays well, but at what cost to the soul? Look for God’s hand in the next person you meet, or the next opportunity he brings your way. Share your gift wherever you can, but don’t think the number of people who enjoy it is any commentary on its value. And if you ever find yourself on a big stage someday at God’s doing, keep it real by being genuine, and look to get off as soon as you can. Don’t believe the lie that you’re being more effective in this kingdom by the amount of attention you command or influence you wield; it’s only in the people you love and how you help them see Jesus.
Unfortunately, I doubt I would have listened.