I meet two kinds of people in Christian work. There are those who have a need for self importance. They need an impressive title, want significant authority, and need a fair amount of personal recognition. Often, in order to confirm their importance and expertise they will make declarative statements on issues and everyone knows from their demeanor that they are "important."

What is interesting about this is that Jesus Himself, never tried to act or look important and He is our model and the One we serve. How He was seen by others was not even on His radar. How he was seen by His Father was His overriding concern. Our desire to be important is antithetical to the One we serve. In fact, Jesus was content to be seen as unimportant by most. Those He ministered too, knew His worth!

Ironically, those who seek recognition often have the least influence because they are not servants of others and while people may give them deference because they know they want it, they do not necessarily respect them. In fact the way to the greatest influence in God's kingdom is cultivating self unimportance in the sense that our objective is to serve others rather than see others as serving us. The way to the greatest influence is that of humble service, regardless of our job title, recognition or scope of authority.

This second kind of Christian worker wants to have the greatest influence for God and His kingdom as possible but they are not driven by recognition or position.

What are the marks of self unimportance that lead to great influence? The first is that we take the posture of a servant to others. I lead an organization but my greatest influence does not come from my title but from the way I serve those who work in the organization. My goal is to make ReachGlobal a great place for people to work, use their gifting and be released to accomplish our mission. To the extent that I serve those in RG well, I have influence both inside our organization and in the world at large. In fact, I believe the job of leaders is to serve well by creating an environment where people and ministry can flourish.

Second, people who cultivate self unimportance listen and dialogue with others rather than making declarative statements or unilateral decisions. Watch leaders who listen, ask questions, dialogue and invite discussion and feedback and you see people who are less interested in their own importance and more interested in engaging a team for ministry results. 

Third, people who cultivate self unimportance minister to the needs of others. They are outward centered, care about the lives and situations of those around them and there is no service too humble for them to perform for others. They believe that people are important, matter to God, have infinite worth and treat them with love and respect. Again, it is an attitude of service to others rather than one of having the expectation of being served. 

Fourth, people who cultivate self unimportance do not seek the applause of others. Life is not about them. It is about Christ and His Kingdom. There is a deep satisfaction found in serving Jesus and His divine amen on their lives is far more important than the recognition of those around them. They are Jesus driven, not recognition driven.

This is an important distinction. Those who need the recognition of others or status are really trying to find their value and significance from other people. Their need comes out of their own lack of inner peace, confidence and self worth that comes from a deep relationship with Jesus. If our self worth is found in Christ, there is no situation that will rob us from that self worth. If it is found in status or position or the applause of others, it will be gone the instant those accoutrements of our lives are gone and they are indeed temporary and transitory.

Those who are confident in their relationship and standing with Jesus simply don't need the recognition of others and status to prop up their self worth. And because they don't need it they don't seek it. Ironically, they are the very ones others value, trust and are drawn to because of their servant and kingdom mindset. Because they are interested in kingdom influence rather than personal recognition (both take time and energy and focus) they end up having greater impact than those focused on themselves.

Influence comes from not needing to be important with others and that becomes possible when we know that our identity is found in Christ above all. Secure in Him we can focus on His kingdom and not our importance.
  • Aug 17, 2011
  • Category: News
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