for the last two years, i’ve had the incredible privilege of leading a group of high school guys as one of their small group leaders. this weekend they’re all graduating and moving on to bigger and better things. i’ve spent two years trying to help them not make the mistakes i made, hoping that they understood what this whole following jesus thing was about, and talking about sex. a lot. no, really. in case you didn’t know, 17-year-old dudes really like talking about sex.
a few weeks ago i had my last official small group with them. that night we spent about 30-45 minutes looking at a passage of scripture talking about prideful people vs humble people. i think it was somewhere in one of the letters to timothy but i really don’t remember. as our guys were going back and forth, talking about what a humble person looked like, i realized that in that moment, on that back porch, i wasn’t the one teaching this group of guys.
they were teaching me.
i’ve always dealt with pride issues. i’m extremely self-conscious so, in an effort to make up for that, i overcompensate and become super cocky and prideful. it’s a pretty stupid thing to do, but it’s what i do. it took years for me to realize this. if you asked my wife, she would tell you that she knew way before i did. she’s told me she never would’ve even dated me had i not realized i was like this and worked really hard to change it. or at least try to change it. it still rears its ugly head more often than i’m proud of.
as we were sitting there talking about what a humble person looked like, one of the guys in the group said that a humble person doesn’t need people to notice what they do. they don’t need someone to tell them they did a great job, or even a good job. they do things just because they know they’re supposed to do them.
we can debate whether or not that’s the true definition of a humble person or not, but what i do know is that in that moment, sitting on the right hand side of a patio couch with a glass of water in one hand and my phone in the other, what he said pierced through every wall that i’d ever built up.
i crave the comments.
i crave people noticing.
i crave the attention.
i don’t think that i crave these things in a negative way. i don’t go out and do things with the sole intention of having someone tell me that i did a great job. i do my absolute best at what i’m doing because it’s what i believe that i should be doing. then, after i do my best, after i work as hard as i can, i crave someone, anyone, noticing. maybe it’s because i was always told i could do better when i was growing up. maybe it’s because i don’t think i’m good enough. maybe it’s simply because encouraging words is my love language. regardless of the reason, i crave the reaction.
i’m reading the book love does by bob goff right now. in it, he writes a chapter entitled “lose the cape.” he starts off by referencing the movie the incredibles and how one of the main characters is told that he doesn’t need a cape on his super hero costume. the point of the comment about no capes is that, according to goff, capes get in the way and hold you back more often than they help you.
my recognition is my cape.
my job title is my cape.
my status is my cape.
knowing that i operate like this, and knowing that i crave these things, this chapter in love does really began to hit me in the mouth. there’s a section of the chapter where goff writes:
in a world driven by self-promotion, jesus modeled something different for us. jesus was saying that instead of telling people about what we’re doing all the time, there’s a better way. one that doesn’t require any capes that can get snagged on something – something like ourselves. maybe jesus wants us to be secretly incredible instead. that was his plan for self-promotion. secretly incredible people keep what they do one of god’s best-kept secrets because the only one who needs to know, the god of the universe, already knows.
maybe jesus wants us to be secretly incredible instead.
i’ve been thinking of writing this post since i read that chapter two weeks ago. it’s taken me this long just to process through that whole idea. being secretly incredible is hard. for years, since the day i said yes to going into full-time ministry, i have desired the title of pastor. i know that for many people, that desire sounds stupid. it’s just a title anyways, right? you can act like a pastor without ever being called one. while that’s true, there’s something about that title that we crave. for me, it’s “pastor.” before that it was “coach.” and before that it was likely something completely different.
as i’ve thought through the concept of being secretly incredible, i’ve started to come to grips with the fact that it’s very likely that i’ll never have the title of pastor. in fact, for many where i currently am, i am still closer to the title of intern than i am pastor. it’s a tough realization to come to, but it’s one that i’m learning more and more is okay.
people can view me in whatever way that they view me.
being secretly incredible isn’t about the way other people view me.
being secretly incredible is all about doing the things that only god sees and being okay with knowing that he’s the only one that saw it. most people have no clue i’m even writing this. i have 1163 friends on facebook and 608 followers on twitter. if this post is like most, i’ll have 40 people read it, 50 if i’m lucky. that is 2.8% of the people that i’m connected with on the internet.
2.8% will notice that i took the time to write this blog post.
2.8% will notice the time that i put into that one graphic so that someone would be attracted to come to that event.
2.8% will notice that i thought through the best way to give the announcements last weekend in church.
at the end of the day, being secretly incredible isn’t about the 2.8% that notice or the 97.2% that don’t.
it’s about the one god that notices that you did exactly what he made you to do.
it’s about the one god that sees you doing the right thing even when no one else does.
it’s about the one god that looks down at you and says that he’s proud of you.
my question to you today is, “what is your cape?” what’s that one thing that you’re longing for? who is it that you want to notice you? we all have the cape that keeps getting stuck in the door and holding us back. each time we think that we’re ready to move on and walk away, it gets stuck and pulls us back to the place that we just came from.
it’s time that we got rid of the capes.
it’s time to be secretly incredible.
say your prayers and take your vitamins.
have a nice day.