There, I said it… I want to be famous!
When I started writing this, several weeks ago, I wrote the title as “I want to be great!” But I knew that wasn’t entirely honest. I don’t just want to be great; I want to be famous, well-know, respected. This isn’t a new ambition. I’ve dealt with these feelings for many, many years.
I wanted to be humble – but not as much as I wanted to be great.
Back in college, I remember channelling my inner ambition toward ministry. Seeing big-wig preachers powwowing made me so envious and I wanted that – more than anything. I justified it because it was “ministry.” After all, I told myself, what could be wrong about being ambitious at God’s work? But in full disclosure, my ambition wasn’t about God or the church at all. It was about me and it wasn’t healthy. I hated the pride that I knew was in me. Even as a married pastor, many years later, I still longed for that spotlight. I knew that desire was seeded in selfish pride and I saw it sprouting up everywhere in my life. I just couldn’t bring myself to weed the garden. Sure I wanted to be humble – but not as much as I wanted to be great.
My turning point was reading Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney. He flipped the paradigm for me. The secret was that greatness comes only through humility and serving others. It gave me permission to desire greatness as long as I prioritized others before myself. It revealed to me how I had been trying to shortcut the process of greatness. It allowed me proper motivation and means to fuel my passion. I admit, though, it ended up changing what I wanted to be great at / famous for… Now, I want to be a great husband, a great daddy, a great Christian. These are the things that matter most to me. More than being a famous author or preacher.
Now, I want to be a great husband, a great daddy, and a great Christian.
Allow me to challenge you with the Scriptures. As the disciples argued about who would be the greatest (Mark 10:37-44), Jesus pointed them to humble service. Our Master said that the greatest will serve others (Matthew 23:11) and the least will be the greatest (19:30). Are you willing to become the least? The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, was clear that humility is the only path to exaltation (Prov. 18:12) and the Apostle agreed by repeating the journey of Jesus himself (Phil. 2). If our own Savior walked that path, shouldn’t we? We should not shy away from ambition but should channel it toward the proper goals. We must ask ourselves: Is this ambition for God, for others, or for selfish gain?
Do I still want to be famous?
Yes, but only for lifting up Jesus.
Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:31
Blessed be the LORD who has not left you this day without a redeemer, that his name may be famous in Israel. Ruth 4:14