A few weeks ago, I was reading an article in a local publication titled, “Top 40 Under 40”. The article summarized an award ceremony where those most successful in their careers and involvement in the community where honoured. At first I was perusing to see if any of the featured professionals were suitable guests for the City TV show that I produce. But as I read on, I became a little blue. The pages before me were filled with men and women who were younger than me, seeming to be achieving more and earning more money than me. There was a 29 year old who had become a managing partner in a successful marketing agency, a 31 year old who had started his own dream surfing business (which he had made a huge success teaching kids and leading camps), and a 29 year old who was the director of operations at a large hospital.
And there was me… I know I am blessed to have a job but I am a million miles away from my dreams. Instead of producing Box Office hit movies or smash-hit TV shows, my professional life is low key and certainly doesn’t carry the influence that I once dreamed I could attain.
I think many of us have woken up and realized that our dreams are a million miles away. We heard in youth group, “Dream big! Nothing is impossible!” But there we are in our twenties and thirties, with our names far from a “Top 40” list. For some of us, we are surrounded by the domestic mundane (changing nappies and emptying the dishwasher is hardly a dream come true). Some are lonely and pray everyday to find their true love, whilst others are trapped in a job that they loathe. Life feels more pitiful than productive and prosperous.
My friend Jory Micah recently blogged on “Letting Go of the Evangelical Dream” (If you have not read it… Please click here right now and read her wisdom. Oh and subscribe to her blog. She is BRILLIANT!) http://www.jorymicah.com/letting-go-of-the-evangelical-dream-of-fame/ In this blog she described how God spoke to her, “If your message helps to set one person free, you have succeeded in my eyes.” No matter how holy you are it’s so very easy to get distracted from ‘caring for the one’. Most of us need more income, so we strive to excel in the work place. We like to hear we are doing well, so we focus on pleasing our colleagues and supervisors. This carries over into our personal lives, so we try and befriend more people, invite more women to our bible study or get a secret thrill when a large crowd listens to our preaching because we crave success. Even if we are not living our dreams, we want to feel like we are a winner!
If you are one of the “Top 40”, I congratulate you! You have clearly worked hard and you deserve the accolades you have earned. But what I am learning is that Jesus was not driven by an ambition to be included in a “Top 40” list. He was not known for his business achievements. He was a humble carpenter until he turned 30 and then began to hang out with a lot of different “losers”. He sought out James and John, a couple of random fishermen. He took care of some crazy lady called Mary from a town called Magdala. When a crowd of people surrounded him, it was the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years that captivated his heart. Jesus pursued the tax collector most people detested. He followed His heart and loved people. His motivation was not to have a huge following and a massive platform. I don’t see him asking the disciples to pray that more people would attend his meeting. And I’m sure the number of likes He got on Facebook was irrelevant.
Actually, in Matthew 25, Jesus was clear about this subject. When talking about clothing the poor and visiting the needy in prison, He told his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “ (Matt 25:40 NIV). Wow. When we take care of just the one – when we look out for someone who needs our love, we are directly serving God. It’s not when we have 10,000 readers of our blog or TV show with 3 million viewers!!!
Whether we are single or married, we have kids, or a career on Wall Street, each one of us has people in our lives that need a cheerleader. We all have friends and family who need to be loved, heard and seen. For me, it’s time to put down the barometer of success. It’s time to quit thinking about my scope of influence like it’s a Nielson TV rating or revenue at the Box Office. I have a wonderful husband. I have a baby on the way. I have a small group of friends who are like family to me. They have my heart and my ear and in the eyes of God, that’s a win. These are my people. They are my focus and I am going after the one!