Our culture is obsessed with “best of the best” lists. We have lists for the most beautiful person, the most influential person, and the richest person in the world.
Most of us want to be recognized as the best in whatever our field is – we want to sell more products than anyone else, have more followers than anyone else, get more likes than anyone else, or get promoted before anyone else. Do you find yourself striving to make it on “the list” at your work?
Once you’re on the list, you feel pressure to move up higher on the list! The goal is recognition, recognition, and more recognition. You want to be the most gifted. You want to be the first choice. You want to be noticed. You want to win. Anything less hurts your pride.
This world supports, encourages, and promotes a sense of pride. We are impressed by power, fascinated by glamour, and hypnotized by wealth. But God’s standards are different. “What people highly value is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15).
You can’t measure your success by the world’s standards. According to these standards, Jesus died an apparent failure; rejected and forsaken. The world did not want a meek and modest leader. And the public ministry of the strangely-dressed, locust-eating John the Baptist lasted only about six months. He didn’t perform a single miracle. Hardly fit to make the cover of TIME magazine as one of the world’s most influential people! But Jesus declared, “There is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:28).
Leadership and greatness are not based on appearance, power, influence, or reputation. When you feel weak and ordinary is when God can best use you! Paul said God intentionally seeks out the “despised” because He can achieve the greatest glory through them. Dwight L. Moody was a poorly educated shoe salesman who became one of the greatest evangelists of modern times. Peter and John were uneducated, ordinary fishermen. First Corinthians 1:27 says, “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
Most leaders I work with are ambitious. I am ambitious too! Some of that’s good and a God-given drive. But living only to get listed somewhere will make you a slave to the numbers. And you will feel insecure every time you find someone better than you.
One day you will be judged, not by fame, fortune, or achievements, but by how much of the character of Jesus is found in you. You must treat this life as a temporary assignment and await your promised reward in heaven. The Message version of 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”