Crown of thorns on top of an open Bible

On Christ and my goofy desires for personal glory

Crown of thorns on top of an open Bible

J. Oswald Sanders wrecked me on an airplane. I was reading Spiritual Leadership en route to Minneapolis.[1. When not trying to get a bit of sleep, of course.] I made it as far as “the spirit of servanthood” before I had to stop for a moment. In this section of the book, Sanders describes the attitudes of a servant leader, chief among them being modesty. The section that wrecked me is quite short, but it’s powerful:

“He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets” (Isaiah 42:2). Neither strident nor flamboyant, God’s servant conducts a ministry that appears almost self-effacing. What a contrast to the arrogant self-advertising of so many hypesters today, both in and out of the church. (25)

This voices the tension I suspect many of us feel—a desire to bring awareness to good things that are happening, the fruit of gospel ministry, but not wanting to be “hypesters”. (And I’m sure we can all think of examples where we’ve seen or been hypesters). While I could go on a long (and probably ill-advised) rant about arrogant self-promotion, what stuck out to me was just a question: how can I live and serve as one who doesn’t make a big deal of himself? How do I kill the desire in me to see myself as a bigger deal than I am (which is to say, any kind of big deal since I’m not)?

The answer, for me at any rate, always comes back to repentance. To own the desire for attention—even as someone who likes to disappear into walls—and ask for the Spirit’s help in turning from it. To focus on Christ who turned from every form of self-promotion and conceit. Christ who shed himself of his deserved glory to become a human being, humbling himself to the point of death. When I look at him, I can’t keep hanging onto my goofy desires of personal glory.

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