I recently read an article by Francis Chan about public passion vs private devotion--- and it revealed a major heart condition. Through this article, the Holy Spirit helped me see that I am a praise junkie.
For about four months now, I have been removed from a 3 year luxury of being surrounded by positive people who loves Jesus and loves you and speaks life into you every single day of the week. And in these last four months, I have been working in a place in which I am surrounded by the exact opposite. It is a place where no one praises your victories, but instead will make a mockery of your short comings--- every single time. Even the slightest mistake will cause an uproar of jokes and mocking. A place filled with broken individuals where positivity is smothered under abuse and failed attempts at hope and love. For them, "'Why hope? Why be nice? Why love?"
And now, I am evermore thankful for these people. Because in their inability to realize their brokenness and therein hide it--like many Christians know how to do so well-- they expose themselves to me. And they do not care about my church ministry resume. They do not care that I can grow a ministry, or move an audience to tears with relatable preaching, or that I have been trained in leadership excellence, or that I worked two jobs and got a degree from Auburn University. They simply do not care.
And therefore, I have felt my self-confidence and self-worth dwindling nearly to nothing---because no one is praising me in my talents. In words, I've gotten used to the king size bed and now being forced to sleep on a cold hardwood floor. Completely unacceptable!
I have also found myself envious of the ones who have what I used to have. A ministry where people love them and follow them and value them. I've missed that warm feeling I get when someone thanks me because I've been such a big help for them. I've missed that fuzzy feeling of being surrounded by people who at any moment can jump into a talk about Jesus. I've missed dwelling with the saints. I've missed the days when I could say some deep and clever spiritual C.S. Lewis type quote or thought and people will throw fits about my wisdom and whatever.
But now, the people I'm surrounded by shrug and remain emotionless. I've been serving them, but no evident response. I've been loving them, but no evident response. I've been speaking life into them, but no evident response. There's been no infatuation with Claude, in fact, I become more of a mockery because I'm somehow not as "down" or as "black" as they are because I'm not as rude and disrespectful. Or I'm "afraid of women" because I'm not flexing my sexuality at the women. So I've been experiencing constant rejection after 3 years of constant acceptance. As a result, my self confidence is near emptied.
Or perhaps God has been refining it?
Perhaps God has lit a fire to my confidence and He's melting away the impurities, which are the praise of man in all it's futility and folly. He's revealing to me that I most of time only see myself as a bold man of God when I'm being told I am one, not because Jesus' ransomed blood has declared me as co-heir with Him, redeemed and adopted. Nope, only when people tell me how awesome I am. And along with that, the fear of failure has haunted me in this season, with this lingering thought of "What are people going to think if something awesome doesn't happen in my life?"
So back to the Francis Chan article. It was the plug that helped me realize my heart's condition in the last few months. That my love for Jesus is very much motivated by man's praise, not solely by my love for Him. When I am in the public, leading or preaching, writing blogs, the praise of you all brings me an intimacy with Jesus that I believe is encouraging, but unhealthy by itself because of man's depravity. Nothing I preach or share with you all is outside of what He's ministered to me, so in that there's a joy I experience when I can help someone with something He's helped me with. But...that can't be the only thing. The private devotion, when no one else can see me, is what really counts. That's where God get's the most work done in us because there's no one there to hide my sin from--- God sees all of it. Every single bit of it. Every thought. Every idea. Every moment. Every glimpse. He sees it all. And He's not as impressed as everyone else is, because He knows me better than all of you. Hey, He know, "Without Me, this guy would be nothing."
But that's it!
Without Him, I am nothing. Without Him, I am no good. Without Him, you would not be impressed with me. You wouldn't read my blogs. You wouldn't retweet or share my blog. If I'm the hero, we all fail! So what matters the most? The only thing that I am nothing without--- my father in heaven.
And that should be what my self confidence and self worth stems and blossoms from. Now I do believe that verbal affirmation and speaking life into people is a great, Godly thing, but hopefully that person you are praising is finding their identities solely in the resurrected King. So thank you Holy Spirit. Thank you Francis Chan. My hope now is that I may love Jesus in the way Peter and John were noted in Acts 4.
when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they
were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized
that they had been with Jesus."
They could tell by the way Peter and John lived that they had been with Jesus. What a remarkable compliment, or probably intended to be an insult. This is my new life verse. That the praise received from you all is that you can tell I've been with Jesus.