Seven years ago when I started my blog, I dubbed it ‘ordinary (mostly)’. It was supposed to be a self-deprecating name. I described myself as a “run-of-the-mill blogger”—which, of course, was entirely true… maybe even generous.
But the truth is that I wanted to be a little bit better than run-of-the-mill. I wanted people to like what I wrote. So it was a false humility.
I just finished reading Richard Beck’s latest book, Reviving Old Scratch. If you’ve been reading my blog for seven years (an audience of two: my mom and my wife), you’ll know that I love Beck’s writing and thinking. This latest book is no exception. His audience is doubting Christians… people like me who have a hard time believing in God sometimes, let alone the devil (“Old Scratch”). Yet Beck argues that even doubters “need to reclaim spiritual warfare… but not in the way you think.”
So—I highly recommend the book. But that’s an aside, because all I really wanted to share here was an insight from Henri Nouwen that Beck highlights in the book…
In The Selfless Way of Christ, Nouwen says…
Three temptations by which we are confronted again and again are the temptation to be relevant, the temptation to be spectacular, and the temptation to be powerful.
Think about the temptations of Christ:
- “Turn these stones to bread” – be relevant
- “Throw yourself down” – be spectacular
- Accept all the kingdoms – be powerful
Nobody wants to be ordinary. Or average. Nobody wants to be the last one picked for the kickball game. Nobody wants to be the failure or the loser. And so we push to stand out from the crowd. We crave success, applause, and attention. We want to have influence, a platform, a voice.
But Jesus calls his followers to something else…
Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.