There’s a part of me that’s always felt destined for greatness. That part of me enjoys being on stage, in the spotlight, reaching out and grabbing people by the heart. It may seem odd to you, but that very love of the spotlight is the one thing that keeps me out of the spotlight most of the time.
God has a hard time using us spotlight lovers. We tend to get in His way a lot, and though we often perform well, we enjoy the spotlight so much that we sometimes miss the whole point of the performance. Before God can really use us in great and mighty ways, He has to break us in equal proportion – and we stubbornly resist being broken. It is for this reason that there are a lot of wonderfully gifted and talented believers sitting on the sidelines, watching people of lesser ability doing the things that they long to do. Those “lesser” performers are usually possessed by the heart of a servant. They know that they can’t do it alone. They are broken, pliable, steerable, and usable. They are often people who shun the spotlight, don’t seek notoriety, and are more concerned with serving Jesus than getting applause and good reviews. They are not “stars,” they are “servants.”
Servanthood doesn’t come easy to us. It requires us to relinquish our coveted star status, and step back – not to co-star, or even to major role, but to “extra” or “ensemble” status. Spotlight lovers HATE being in the ensemble. That’s why we struggle so much when God calls us to be servants. We take verses like Mark 9:35, where Jesus says “…If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all,” and we say “OK, I’ll be a servant, but only because I’m number one!” It’s like calling a sleazy used-car salesman “Honest Charlie.” He’s got the title, but it only serves to emphasize his dishonesty.
God has been working on me for a long time about REAL servanthood. It’s been a tough sell, but He’s been persistent – and He’s making progress. I’ve finally gotten past “OK, Lord, I’ll give this to you. Now, you’re going to give it back to me, right?” I’m actually starting to get it through my thick skull that God’s not trying to be mean by asking me to let go. He’s actually trying to improve my lot, and the things that He doesn’t give back after I’ve surrendered them are things that are interfering with what He’s trying to do with me. I’m even learning to appreciate those non-speaking parts, and I understand that the only real “star” in the Body of Christ is its head – Jesus.
Now, I’m not completely “there” yet. I may not be completely “there” until I see Him face-to-face. But, I’m finally learning about the joy that comes in being a servant. I’m learning that the most satisfying place to be is right under God’s thumb, doing what He wants me to do where He wants me to do it, when He wants me to do it, and because He wants me to do it.
I still have my moments of longing for stardom, but they pass. Once in a while, God calls me to the spotlight, and I think He does that just to see what I’ll do when I get there. Slowly but surely, I’m learning to step back and let Jesus upstage me, so He gets the applause and I get the encouragement. And, I actually prefer it that way.
God might call me to one of those visible, front-line places some day – or He might not. It doesn’t really matter anymore. What matters is being where God has called me to be right now, and serving Him wherever that may be.
I guess I’ve finally learned what greatness really is: Serving God wherever He plants you, and letting HIM have top billing.