Center Stage

Some people love the spotlight. Others are terrified of it. And then there are those who love living life just outside the spotlight. They too are often terrified of being in the spotlight, but their passion is to make the people in the spotlight look good. This can be a life coach, a talent coach, someone who actually runs a spotlight or audio equipment for a performance. They love being the hidden, behind the scenes support that is so critical to the person on center stage. They would never take center stage themselves, but they celebrate when their work contributes to the success of the person onstage. And then there are those who don’t celebrate others’ success.

Some people who work in the shadows of others feel cheated. They feel they are the ones who should be getting the applause and adulation. And unlike the people who love the anonymity of behind the scenes support roles, they are miserable. That can be especially true when the person on the center stage shows little or no gratitude for their efforts. We get a great lesson on how to handle this from John the Baptist.

Some of John’s disciples pointed out that now Jesus too was baptizing and “everyone is going to Him.” It’s possible that their motive was to cause discord between John and Jesus. That did not happen:

To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 23:27-30 (NIV)

John knew well what his role was. Yes, he had a public ministry. But he knew his role was to pave the way for Jesus, as had been prophesied:

A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3 (NIV)

It’s easy to become envious of those in the limelight. Sometimes pastors fall prey to envying pastors with a larger stage. You could say John was an opening act who knew that Jesus was the star. He never aspired to be more than that. And he is remembered well for what he did because it was vitally important.

Sometimes, members of the church body can feel slighted because their work doesn’t get the attention of higher-profile members, such as pastors, speakers or members of the worship team. But each of us has a spiritual gift that God sees as a vital natural resource in His Kingdom’s economy. Let us pray that we never fall victim to believing any role in which we serve Christ is unimportant or that we aren’t getting the credit we deserve. God sees it all and he will remember us well for it.

This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere.

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