Jesus did everything he could to not be famous.
There are at least seven moments recorded where He does something miraculous and immediately commands everybody to keep their mouths shut about what they just saw.
He restores sight to two blind guys.
He brings a dead 12-year-old girl back to life.
He talks out loud with God on a mountaintop in front of James and Peter and John.
He healed a man’s leprosy.
The list goes on.
And he never spoke about any of it again.
He didn’t tweet it.
He didn’t post it on Instagram.
He didn’t even casually brag about it over dinner.
Which is shocking because my natural response is the exact opposite. The moment I do anything noteworthy, the desire for approval takes over. I want you to admire my huge ambitions. I want bigger crowds and louder applause and more likes. I want my platform (whatever that means) to constantly expand.
By themselves, none of those measures are bad.
Fame and applause and follower counts are not inherently evil—you can be famous and be close to God—but when we confuse fame with God’s favor on our lives, we screw up the entire foundation of Jesus’ message.
Fame is not favor.
Your follower count says absolutely nothing about your relationship with God.
How many “celebrity” Christians must fall before we realize it’s true? Before we reject the toxicity of our fame-obsessed culture and replace it with a new value system?
When we trade being fully known by God and our close community for applause from the crowd, we invite dramatic breakdown into our lives. It’s only a question of how long it will take and how public it will be.
This is especially true for young creatives I know.
We want the world to love the things we create—be it videos or blogs or sermons or whatever—because we really care about them! That’s totally cool. But somewhere along the way, if you’re like me, you start taking too much credit for your accomplishments. You obsess over stats and numbers and crowd sizes, ultimately drawing your worth from the numbers.
It’s no longer about the thing you’re creating, it’s about you.
Dallas Willard was a seminary student at Baylor in the 50’s when he heard God speak to him about this very thing.
As a very green young man, I was watching other green young men trying to find a place to preach. And the Lord said something very simple to me: “Never try to find a place to speak, try to have something to say.”
Write that down somewhere and don’t forget it.
“Never try to find a place to speak, try to have something to say.“
Can you imagine the world today if God’s people rejected our lust for approval and instead focused on becoming deep followers of Jesus? We would discover a rich, continuous flow of freedom and creative energy in our lives. Free from the restraint of convincing people (who we don’t even know) to like us.
That is the example of Jesus.
So, how do we do it?
Christine Caine wrote a sentence that became a guidepost for me on the creative journey.
“If the light shining on you is brighter than the light shining in you, the light on you will destroy you.“
It’s a simple equation.
Light in you > Light on you = peace
Light in you < Light on you = destruction
The math checks out.
And the only way to develop that light shining in you is to go deep with Jesus.
You’ve got to spend more time walking with Him, speaking with Him, and learning about Him than you spend looking at your stats. Block the distractions that strain your relationship with Him. Invite Him to search the depths of your heart and expose the sin holding you back from fully receiving His love, then do the uncomfortable work of rooting it out.
Richard Foster wrote, “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.“
God isn’t holding anything back from you—He wants to give you more Love and Grace and Power than you can imagine—but your own sin and distraction keep you from receiving it. He will take you deeper the moment you’re ready for it.
Be ruthless about depth with Him.
And then, let Him worry about the width of your platform.
If He wants millions of people to applaud your work, okay.
If He wants just your Mom to see it, that’s great too.
Because you’ve found something way greater than a platform—a secure, life-giving friendship with the Creator of the universe. That’s where you will find His favor.