For much of my life I have felt that in order to “be somebody,” I have to prove my worth through success and accomplishments. People will love me if … I get a doctorate, become a church planter, lead a large and thriving church, write a book.
But life has many precarious turns, detours, and dead ends. In more recent years I’ve discovered that for every accomplishment there are two … or three setbacks. Instead of “three steps forward, two steps back,” it seems I go two steps forward, three steps back.
If we hang our hat on the accolades of others, eventually our hat misses the mark and falls to the floor.
I’ve always appreciated the perspective of Agur, son of Jakeh, when he wrote, “Give me neither poverty or riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, `Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8b-9, ESV).
The Apostle Paul echoes the sentiment: “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13, ESV).
In the book, Liturgy of the Ordinary, author Tish Warren makes a point about Jesus’ baptism I had never considered. She highlights how remarkable it is that when Jesus was baptized, the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11).
These words of love and affirmation came before Jesus had done much of anything that many would find impressive. He hadn’t yet healed anyone or resisted Satan in the wilderness. He hadn’t yet been crucified or resurrected.
“It would make more sense if the Father’s proud announcement came after something grand and glorious—the triumphant moment after feeding a multitude or the big reveal after Lazarus is raised” (ibid., 16). Surprisingly, it’s only after Jesus emerges from the water a commoner, wet and messy haired that the Spirit of God shows up and the deep mystery of the universe reverberates through the air: this is the Son of God, the Son the Father loves, in whom He is pleased.
Jesus is sent into the desert and then into His public ministry with a declaration of the Father’s love, not to earn the Father’s love. “He loved others, healed others, preached, taught, rebuked, and redeemed not in order to gain the Father’s approval, but out of His rooted certainty in the Father’s love” (ibid., 17).
And so it is true for you … and for me. We don’t have to prove our worth through success and accomplishments. God loved us long before we took our first breath, made our first dollar, or preached our first sermon.
God loves you, and it is out of His declaration of love that every activity—great or small—is declared precious in His sight. Now, go and simply “be somebody,” because you are somebody valued and loved by Him.