Fame, Greatness … and the Best Place of All: Small

February 21, 2014 | 45 comments

It was freshman orientation.

I remember how small I felt sitting in the fold-down seat of a university auditorium. I had my bangs teased high. And there was this long smear on the thigh of my Gitano jeans, where the mustard had squirted out the back side of my chili dog. I had tried to wipe it clean at the bathroom sink beforehand, but it made matters worse. So I held a Mead, college-ruled notebook over the stain.

I was a small-town girl, back row, listening to the woman up front. And I still remember how her long blond hair cascaded just past her shoulders. She was supposed to inspire us to greatness, and that is exactly what she did. She had us on the edges of our seats when she asked us this question: “What do you want to be famous for?”

We had just been given permission to be significant. Starry eyes twinkled. Dreams soared. Future spotlights shined on our barely-adult souls.

And everything about everything told me that she was right. Big was the new black. Small was so … small-town. I was as certain as I’d ever been that we were made for fame, and it would take years to know what my soul already know:

We were never made for fame.

We weren’t made for spotlights, or stages, or impressive lists of who’s-who. Someday, some of you might end up there on some list, somewhere. Maybe you’re already there — at the top of your game. And sure, you can use that platform to honor and glorify our Father. I pray you do.

But dear Lord, keep us humble if any of us land under the glare of a spotlight. Don’t let us play like actors, under the guise of “making Jesus famous.” Because really, does a Nazarene who raises people from the dead really need our help?

In 2012, Emily Freeman said it like this: “Our souls were not made for fame. Our souls were made for the Famous One. O God, save us from ourselves.”

More than a half century ago, A.W. Tozer said it like this: “Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice.”

And back when Jesus walked the earth, the Baptizer deflected the allure of Big, when He said it like this:

“I am not the Christ.”

He know that the best place of all? Was small. Somewhere behind Christ.

If anybody is going to be big, let it be Christ.

And if anybody is going to be small, let it be me. Let it be us.

 

 “He must become greater,
I must become less.”
~ John 3:30

 

Linking with Lisa-Jo Baker, with her writing prompt this week on this word: SMALL.

Happy weekend friends. May you find the joy of your smallness, accompanied by Christ’s glorious greatness.

by | February 21, 2014 | 45 comments

45 Comments

  1. Whitney C

    So true. We are to make much of Him in our lives, not make much of yourselves. Thank you so much for sharing, FMF neighbor :).

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Whitney. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Tonya

    Wow!!!! Ummmmm… just wow… This line —> Don’t let us play like actors, under the guise of “making Jesus famous.” Because really, does a Nazarene who raises people from the dead really need our help? —> This was like an arrow to my heart. Blessed by these words.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Grateful for your words in the comment box, Tonya. Thanks for swinging by.

      Reply
  3. Alia_Joy

    Amen, friend. There is so much glory in the small. So much room for God to move. So much space when we empty the things that puff us up and lead us seeking the spotlight and the accolades. So much peace when we stop caring about the big stuff and focus on the only one who really is. That’s why I’m excited about your book. The only thing that fills the void.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yes, yes… Thank you, Alia.

      Reply
  4. Barbie

    Wow, Wow, Wow! YES! He must increase, I must decrease. Laura Hackett has a song about how the river rushes to the lowest place. I want to be where the river runs freely. Blessings!

    Reply
  5. soulstops

    Yes, Amen…funny, how Tozer’s quote from 50+ years ago rings even more true today…Happy Friday to you, Jennifer 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Isn’t that something? About the Tozer quote?

      So, this: … the secular media feeds our hunger for being known. I read about a study in Time magazine a while back saying that TV shows placing values on characteristics like fame and achievement have skyrocketed in the last 40 years, displacing theme like benevolence. … But we can’t blame secular culture alone. I think about all the ways we are at risk of turning Jesus into an industry — and really, how it’s already happening. And Tozer saw it more than 50 years ago. … We can so easily elevate Christian authors, pastors and speakers into celebrity-dom.

      Dear Lord, guard all of our hearts. That we wouldn’t seek celebrity, nor encourage it by placing our Christian leaders on pedestals.

      Reply
      • soulstops

        Amen.

        Reply
    • IfMeadowsSpeak

      AW Tozer is one of my all time favorites.

      Reply
      • soulstops

        Me, too 🙂

        Reply
  6. Alyssa Santos

    I’ve been thinking about the word magnify this week, it’s stuck in my head and showing up where I least expect it. These words are all about that. Thank you for putting your hand in mine with these thoughts…

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Ooo… Tell me more about that. What are you finding with magnify?

      Reply
  7. kasmith03

    Oh Jennifer this post is SO good! Thank you for these reminders!!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Kristin! Did you get lots of snow yesterday in Minnesota?

      Reply
      • kasmith03

        Not where we are at – but north of us did! We got a little snow, some ice and LOTS of wind! Ready ready for spring! 🙂

        Reply
  8. Beth

    I just adore you. Happy Friday sweet friend. Thank you for your beautiful words…always a message I need to hear. Praying for you, your book and your launch. Hugs.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you for your prayers … and your hugs! Have a great weekend.

      Reply
  9. Amy Bennett

    Yes, always need this reminder. Great post.

    Reply
  10. Bruce Barone

    Wonderful!

    Reply
  11. Charlie

    “If anybody is going to be big, let it be Christ.” Might have to put that on the wall somewhere.

    Reply
  12. IfMeadowsSpeak

    {swoon}. This makes a person breathe lighter. It’s not about us performing but rather, about us being able to get behind Him and just be, small.

    Reply
  13. submissions

    Drawn to read your post and sure enough the Spirit confirmed His word to me this week through your use of John 3:30…why is it so hard sometimes to take eyes off of myself? especially in an atmosphere where everyone is trying to make a name for themselves…save me Lord Jesus.

    Reply
  14. Christy Willard

    Really appreciate this post today! I tend to feel really small in the world of blogging. So many wonderful women doing wonderful things — some days I feel like the the girl in the back row jumping just to be seen over the crowd. How convicting and encouraging to read your words today. It is a fight, isn’t it? To not care about being included. To not define your worth by how you don’t measure up to others. Excited to read your new book because I know it is going to inspire and encourage heart change.

    Christy @ A Heartening Life
    http://www.ahearteninglife.com

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Christy … I hear you; I do. And the longing to be known, it’s really a longing for Christ, but we try so hard to fill the longing with people we can see and touch and talk to, face to face.

      Andy Stanley said at Catalyst, “It’s in all of us to want to be known. Even when you’re preaching, you can be thinking at the same time, ‘Is she texting or taking notes? Does she have an emergency or does she just not like my message?’ … He went on to say, “To lead you must be known. So the solution can’t be, ‘I’m going to become a hermit and stop leading.’ As a leader you’ve actually been called to be known. You’ve been called out into the spotlight.God wants you to use your skills … The question is, How do we keep it from ruining us? How do you avoid becoming a victim of the laws of applause?”

      Reply
  15. Courtney

    Excellent. Jotting the Tozer quote down on paper and locking in heart. I wanna be known as a friend of sinners…just like my savior. Thank you.

    Reply
  16. Karrilee Aggett

    Again… I love you. That is all.

    Reply
  17. Michelle DeRusha

    Well you know how much I need to read those John words every single minute. Beautifully written, Jennifer.

    Reply
  18. bluecottonmemory

    I think sometimes the desire for fame is just the desire to be known – but the only one who can really know us, get us – and help us to be who we were designed is Him:) When we let Him become more – somehow our becoming less makes us more than we ever imagined! So enjoyed your post today!

    Reply
  19. Ann Kroeker

    The means to actually have 15+ minutes of fame have increased so much since I was young, with YouTube being accessible to everyone from Donald Trump to my 16-year-old daughter…how can we help our kids release this temptation that exists at their fingertips? This desire to become more than just known but to become famous? One place I may start is simply reading this aloud at the dinner table, to spark some conversation. Thanks for writing it, Jennifer.

    Reply
  20. Jerri Miller

    “Because really, does a Nazarene who raises people from the dead really need our help?”

    Indeed.

    Great post, Jennifer. I used to feed in to the allure of fame, too. But now I’d rather be in that small place somewhere behind Christ, too.

    – Jerralea

    Reply
  21. Sandra Heska King

    Today I got tickets for a book signing with Melissa Gilbert of Little House fame. I’m kind of excited about that.

    But my heart is this: I’d rather be filled than famous. But if I gain any fame, let it be for making Him famous.

    Reply
  22. Margo @ A Beautiful Mess of Gr

    Fabulous!! And this: “Don’t let us play like actors, under the guise of “making Jesus famous.” Because really, does a Nazarene who raises people from the dead really need our help?”

    So simple and so true!! Great post Jennifer!

    Reply
  23. David Rupert

    I remember my eight year son telling me he wanted to be famous. I looked at him and said, “No you don’t Son. What you really want to be is amazing.” And now, he’s not famous. But he is amazing and I’ll take that anyday.

    Reply
  24. Mel

    “If anybody is going to be big, let it be Christ.” Yes, this. Powerful words here…thank you. And I’m really looking forward to reading your book! Have a beautiful weekend. 🙂

    Reply
  25. floyd

    I heard a sermon on this very subject right after Michael Jackson died. Indeed, our souls weren’t made to be glorified… just doesn’t fit. “Whose last will be first.”

    Wonderful post and heart, Jennifer, and needed reminder.

    Reply
  26. Somer

    This was an amazing post! Thank you for this insight…we were not made to be famous…wow thats quite a concept that our american idol age doesn’t comprehend…i loved it

    Reply
  27. Dawn Paoletta

    What can I say, you have said it all so well…and the funny thing is when you see what fame really does to the soul…in lives expressed outwardly, it is painful and tragic. A gross, distorted idol. I really have been pondering this lately as I hear so many quick to condemn those who fall in the limelight…am guilty myself, and then I realize, none of us can really handle it. It must be heartbreaking to God, to see so many chasing after that which will destroy them. Um…ok, so I did say something. But mostly, sobering wisdom, Jennifer. Thanks for that.

    Reply
  28. Nancy Ruegg

    We may not be well-known, as in “famous,” but we are all known in smaller circles. So the question still needs to be answered, “What do we want to be known for?” If we choose wisely, God can use us as positive influences upon those around us. And the ripple effect can reach far and wide. I think of family members, teachers, youth workers, etc. whose influence still impacts me, years later. May I remember the import of honoring God with my life–in my corner of the world. Thank you, Jennifer, for helping us focus on what’s important, in view of eternity.

    Reply
  29. Rachael

    Sometimes that is a painful place of surrender to be, other times it is the only place where true rest and safety are available. Either way…it is my prayer!

    Reply
  30. Mindy Whipple

    Great post – making more of Him, less of us. So often we seek fame or fortune when all we need seek is Jesus..

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest