“Her leaders issue rulings for a bribe, her priests teach for payment, and her prophets practice divination for silver. Yet they lean on the Lord, saying, ‘Isn’t the Lord among us? No disaster will overtake us.’ Therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become ruins, and the temple’s mountain will be a high thicket.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
What kind of influence do you have? Who are some of the people who listen to you and are swayed by what you tell them to think differently than they did before? Who are the people in your life who look to you for assurance that the path they are taking is the right one? The fact is, most people have influence over someone. You have influence over someone. And if you do, how you use that influence matters a great deal.
This past Sunday morning we kicked off a brand-new teaching series called Being Useful. That’s something we all want, isn’t it? We want to be able to confidently say that we have made a difference in the world. Our heart pulses with that beat. Over the next few weeks, we are going to be examining the character that will guarantee we reach our goal in the areas that matter most. I look forward to going on this journey with you. Thanks for reading.
The Secret to Mattering Most
Let’s start this morning with a quick pop culture survey for you. Shout it out if you know the answer. What do Dude Perfect, PewDiePie, HolaSoyGerman, and elrubiusOMG all have in common? They are all YouTube stars. PewDiePie leads the pack with 96 million subscribers to his YouTube channel. The other three all sit north of 35 million, with Dude Perfect leading the second-tier pack at over 42 million. A lot of subscribers translates into a lot of money because of the way YouTube shares ad revenue with its viral video producers. In 2018, Forbes Magazine reported that the highest grossing YouTube channel was not actually one of the top 10 by subscriber totals, but rather Ryan ToysReview. This seven-year-old whose channel started when he was four and features him playing with toys…really, that’s it…made him (and his proud parents) $22 million. The Dude Perfect channel—which is produced by some friends from Texas A&M whose stated goal is to glorify Christ in all they do—made $20 million. That kind of income allows them to keep making videos like this one as their full-time job.
“Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.” (ESV)
We live in the day of the self-made, internet-created celebrity. YouTube has been the source of numerous stars today. So have Instagram and Snapchat. To become such a person you must promote yourself. Relentlessly. You must be constantly on the lookout for opportunities to get other people to pay attention to you. And, if you have the right blend of talent, gumption, and luck, you can make a lot of money this way.
And yet, what is ultimately the fruit of such an endeavor? Given the stories about or often the character of such folks, it’s not good. We live in a celebrity-worshiping culture. We are constantly on the lookout for people to elevate to celebrity status in order to give them our devotion. In doing so, we not only debase our own lives, but also the lives of the people being worshiped.
Still, many recognize this celebrity worship and crave it. They crave it and so they do whatever they can to gain it for themselves. Yet again, what good does this do? Wisdom and observation would again answer: Very little.
What Solomon calls for here is a much better way: Do your best where you are and let it be recognized naturally. Let your godly character be the thing everyone notices about you first and foremost. Become known as a person who can be depended upon when things get tough. Produce work that lifts people up and points away from you to God.
If you are advancing yourself and your image, you just may get the acclaim you seek, but there is a very good chance it will come at the expense of your soul. And with that sold away, when the acclaim departs (for self-sought acclaim nearly always departs much sooner than we expect it to) what will you have left? Instead, glorify God in all things and let the chips fall where they may. He will receive the acclaim now, and you will receive acclaim from Him when the time is right. That will be a fame that won’t fade.