Oh, To Be Famous

Matthew 3:7-12  Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. 10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. 11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him. As I struggled to understand some of the things that drove me to be obsessed with music and writing, I came to a point I had to know why I was putting all this energy into something with so little promise of big returns. If I were to become a famous pianist, I would have to give up my work as a pastor’s wife. My husband could not carry on normal pastoral work, as much of his time would be associated with the demands of that sort of career. If I were to become a famous author, it would be easier on the relationship and pastoral life. But still, I would have to deal with deadlines, publishers demands, decline and upturning sales. Life dealing with a corporation whose bottom line is money adds a whole new level of stress. Yes, but wouldn’t being famous be worth it? So, why did I want to play the piano any time I had an opportunity? Why Did I want to share the stories and devotionals with others so badly?  Why did I want to have my own publishing company? I never liked being the boss. I am a lousy businessperson. I learned that quickly thanks to some opportunities a cousin of mine who is a successful businessman offered me.  The more people depended on me for their success, the more frightened I became. I realized I am most comfortable when serving. I am a service person, not a businessperson. So, why did I want to do this? Merely to be famous, or to serve? In one of our pastoral stations, we attended a sister church’s special series of services presided over by a retired bishop. At the altar call, the need to know why overwhelmed me. As the bishop prayed with me, I explained what I was seeking. He told me when he was young some of the older people of the church named him the best preacher of his generation. His words were, “I wish they had not done that.” For years he struggled with that as he tried to figure out if he was just trying to live up the prestige of the designation, or did he truly want to be the best pastor he could be. He said he finally locked the office door, took off his coat, rolled up his sleeve and said “okay, Satan, let’s get this over with.”  He came out on the other end, (in my opinion) one of the best bishops of his generation. In this world where once you become famous, it is open season for all the reputation hunters, the professional critics, and gossips. It often becomes life’s work to maintain the ministry instead of being able to do the work itself. I came to know I really did not want to be famous. I wanted to serve. It is a delight to have something to contribute to people’s lives. My fiction is my fun stuff, yet the few people who have read it enjoy it and have been blessed. People have reported help in their own journey from reading my book of my spiritual journey. And my book of devotions has been used as discussion starters in at least one Sunday School class. Many have told me they have it on their nightstands. My book of readers’ plays is still selling online. But I am not in any danger of becoming a famous writer. The contentment of having played the piano well in a service is a joy that only God can give and is indescribable. My biggest worry now is maintaining the consistency of playing to the best of my ability. Yet, few know my name. Early on, I chose to remain one who serves on a local or denominational level, wherever God put me. My prayer is that God will help me to not let recognition, of the wonder that is the music He gave, me make me so aware of its beauty that it hampers my ability to just sit down and worship through the music. If that is lost, so is the wonder of it all. Many times this is the first thing that gets lost through fame. The devotional I am studying ends the study of the passage like this: Perhaps our best work is done in silences without the celebrity. Jesus asked the people he healed in this passage not to make him known….it wasn’t time for him to have to deal with all that yet. He had fundamental foundations to get into place before the whole world got involved. I am still wondering about that last line. I think I will leave the fruits of my labors up to God.

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