One friend feels his ministry efforts require validation from others in order to worth doing. Otherwise, he gets discouraged.
Another sees what he's doing as more valid than what he does not see others do and wants me to know.
Another is wrought of a broken heart, knowing there are those who thinks he is doing less than he is doing, and so, often succumbs to bragging.
One guy wants to be in ministry so badly that he is crushed inside because he never took the risk of investing himself. He is making less than $30K, yet the scrutiny of others holds him back.
Another, one person with the gift of giving, is so burdened by guilt -- he makes double or triple what his friends do -- that he quits his job whenever the guilt weighs more than he can handle.
All of these people like that what they are doing is seen, known, and appreciated. What's new there?
Another works under the radar. No one knows what she does, or, rather, very few people. She gives tremendously of her time and money for missions and international relief.
One friend recently told me how he and his wife received significant money from an unknown person. That money kept them from having to sell their home.
One guy, who could have much more, chooses to make less in order to serve in college ministry with its necessary requirements for flexibility.
Another friend asked for my assistance to anonymously deliver a gift to a third friend.
I've known many men who have quietly unwritten personal ministry efforts of missions. No one sees what they do. In fact, on the outside, they look so suburban you might think they are all about indulgence. The wealthiest guy I ever met (worth mega-millions), also a Christian, wore secondhand suits and gave away millions.
Myself, I have benefited from several secret, or semi-secret gifts. One was a car so that I could more easily travel to teach in a jail. Another was for that ministry itself: a continual supply of Bibles. A third and fourth were cash gifts so that I could afford to attend graduate school.
Pride. Ego. Narcissism. Kindness. Love.
That's the bad and the good, but to Christ, familiar. He sees it all, and knows that whats-what in all cases.
Justice Carmon asks about heroes who quit and why, "It casts you out from your community to serve others. It makes you an alien to your own family and friends." In other words, the right thing is to do the right thing, not to dwell on the approval of men, nor scorn their complicity as a personal slight. He knows it is not the sight of men we covet. The Christian hero rarely wears red cape.
Nothing's new under the sun. For me, my name is in many places. A quick Google search will show you my name is attached to all sorts of things on the web. My book reviews, running adventures, my professional work, and my poetry all can be found instantly. That's not the half of it. If I am not careful, I'll, as they say, believe my own press.
Ego meets insecurity, or professional branding? My name is on this blog. No pseudonym. If you read this, and know me, I am hoping the two versions of me match.
I second-guess my motivations so much it is practically a theme in my life. That's not good either. False humility can kick in.
How many churches make sure the pastor's name is on the front? How much harder better known names have to stay humble. Joel Osteen makes sure you not only see his name, but, just like Oprah Winfrey, his picture is the first thing you see. The growing trend to make sure people see who we are, what we do disturbs me, even as I am replete with the same thing.
Of course I want to be known, but not by men. Too often, that's not true. As a writer, my name means something. It does not mean what Steven King's name means, or Michael Jordan's. It means what Anthony Trendl's name means. If at any point, that name tends against the name above all names, then I have it wrong.
Jesus Himself saw this often enough to mention it.
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:1-6