less and less
“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” – John 3:30
John the Baptist’s response to his disciples, as some of his followers began pursuing Jesus, wasn’t natural. He understood his assignment and place in the kingdom. Everyone desires a reward for their efforts. No one would have been troubled if John’s response would have been more combative.
John, though, knew his role. John’s purpose was to prepare people for the coming of Christ. I’m sure his disciples understood his role but must have been troubled to see his following dwindling.
True humility is a rare quality. We believe bigger is better and true success requires greater impact.
At the beginning of parenthood, we’re a huge deal to our kids. Mom or Dad come home, and the little ones rejoice! “Daddy’s home,” they shriek and run toward us with outstretched arms. So, I’ve noticed it goes for grandparents, too. I watched my parents & in-laws excitedly become grandparents, and then become older grandparents.
The younger the child, the more excited they are to be with their grandparent. Their time is high quantity and high quality. The child rejoices when they come through the door and is thrilled to learn they’ll be spending a few days at their grandparents’ house.
When those same kids hit their teenage years, they don’t love their grandparents any less, but their enthusiasm diminishes. While I know grandparents understand, it’s surely a little disappointing. Their entrance was once the biggest deal, and it becomes a “hey, good to see you” moment.
Imagine a grandpa, sitting in the bleachers, watching his grandson playing 2nd base. Now, in his late 70s, this man was a good ballplayer himself and he taught his grandson how to play. Here he sits, in the heat, just watching and waiting without anyone asking his opinion. Because he patiently waits, he will have a sweet moment to affirm his grandson.
Parents and grandparents don’t lose their opportunity to have influence in their loved one’s life, provided they’re willing to accept a diminished role (with regard to time spent together). Their windows of impact may be shorter, but they're no less profound.
As a grandparent gracefully accepts a different role over time, so we’re called to become less and less on our journey. When we willingly surrender, Jesus becomes greater. Even as we become less, our experience, intimacy and impact increase because He is increasing.
Jesus is the One who restores, redeems, makes new and turns broken into beautiful. Why shouldn't we be thrilled to allow our role to be reduced, so His role can increase? We can trust Him to use us in a way that is most effective for His Kingdom.
I was recently asked to look back over the last 10 years and consider if I had any idea I would be where I am right now, doing what I am doing currently. Not even close! So much has changed in my last 10 years.
How about you? Are you doing exactly what you thought you’d be doing? Are you in the place you expected to be?
Why resist giving Jesus control, or allowing Him to become greater in our lives, when we struggle to control our trajectory and circumstances? Why not be willing to set aside our ambitions, pride and desires to let the King rule our lives?
For me, it means being willing to be insignificant. Becoming less means not worrying with my impression of the results.
My job is to be obedient, no matter how small I consider the task may be. As I commit to say yes to Him, I realize I may step down, but I trust Jesus is doing something greater through me than I would ever have accomplished on my own.