Just a quick thought for the day. A few years ago, my father-in-law preached a sermon that was about not spending your energy trying to 'be the greatest' or 'make a name for yourself.' He talked about how so much of what we do is to be ‘The Great One’...to make sure people see us as funny, pretty, wise, a good mom or homemaker (depending on your personal particular path to greatness). The phrase ‘make a name for myself' really clicked with me. That's a great description of what I feel pressure to do in social situations when I'm not settled in who God created me to be. I'm intent on making a name for myself.
You know what’s crazy about ‘making a name for myself’? When I’m with people, and I spend the whole time with them trying to make a name for myself as ‘The Great One,’ I think that I'm securing something for myself: I think I'll be safe, and loved, and wanted. I think that I'll have a group of friends who all love me and I'll be happy. I believe I’m successfully securing community for myself.
But do you know what ACTUALLY happens when I live striving to make a name for myself or to be great? This is CRAZY. I'm actually RUINING community. I'm undermining the foundation of what good community is all about, and I’m creating and encouraging an environment that’s actually NOT safe, NOT truly loving, and where people are trained to focus inward.
I undermine community because instead of genuinely caring about my friends, I'm only caring about myself. I have a self-serving agenda, namely that I would be great...and to get to my goal of being great so that I can feel safe, loved, and wanted, I'll use anyone I have to in order to get there. It’s not an environment of love, it’s an environment of manipulation.
I think my greatness will bring me to a safe place, a secure place, a place where I'll have community surrounding me because everyone will love me (if I'm honest, the goal I'm pushing for looks like even more than wanting everyone to love me...it almost looks like wanting everyone to worship me), but what I'm doing is actually manipulating people to serve me and my agenda of greatness.
So in a sentence, when I hang out with my friends, looking to find safety and security and identity by striving to prove my greatness, I'm actually eroding what would end up being a safe and life-giving place for me if I had followed God's ways and used my energy to love, to serve, and to look to care for someone else, for their own good, instead of my own.