Take courage. Do not be disheartened when you feel you speak, and people do not listen; when you feel you work hard but the fruits of your labour are not appreciated; when you feel your love is rejected and your counsel unappreciated; when people brush you aside like you are not even there; when you feel like giving up on everyone and everything, because though you do all you can for everyone and everything else, it is understood by those around you that since that is your responsibility, your role or your gifting, why should they have to offer you any encouragement or appreciation anyway? But please note that I am not talking about showing appreciation by publicly acknowledging someone or their work, ministry, service, etc. This only serves, in my opinion, to puff people up and make them forget with whose power they are able to achieve the things they achieve; it only serves to put themselves on the throne instead of its rightful owner, the Lord Jesus Christ. When I talk about being appreciated for all you do, I refer to individual expressions in the course of daily life, in private when no one is looking, when you know that what you are saying is to benefit the person receiving the praise, because you want to truly encourage and edify them.
Take courage that although you may feel that which you are building, be it a family, a ministry, a marriage, a career or whatever, will never be appreciated or acknowledged for the importance it really has, biblically it is not the labours of those who constantly seek the limelight, the recognition and the reward of their efforts, which will translate into a great harvest when the time comes and all is revealed, because it is not about men’s praise and reward for our efforts, but it is all about the journey, and how we dealt with the sacrifice of giving of ourselves to everybody else without receiving or expecting anything in return.
Is being invisible to those around you becoming an issue for you? Do you wonder why you bother, what is the point?
The point is that when we come to that crossroad in our life, we are faced with an epiphany moment of biblical proportion; we are faced with the choice to either do what we do out of love for God and others , or we do it to ensure that our wrongly assumed greatness, goodness, wisdom, skill, passion, initiative, vision, etc. are clearly seen and admired by everyone else. Every time we opt to continue down the road of invisibility, we choose to exercise the power the Lord has bestowed on us to overcome self-centeredness and pride; we fulfill Jesus’s cry to us to pick up our cross and follow Him; His call to lose our life so that we can gain it; His call to die to ourselves so that others may live. When we choose that turn in the journey of faith, is when we become truly Christian; it is when our actions speak louder than our words; it is when you realise you cannot convince anybody of God’s existence, His love or the power of Jesus Christ living in you, by mere words, persuasive arguments, apologetics, bible bashing or cleverly thought out, manipulative outreach events which are often not conducive to the spontaneity and freedom of the Spirit. None of these will be the determining factor that draws someone to Jesus, because it is only the choice to a life of invisibility as opposed to a life of constant praise and admiration by everybody else, that which will testify to the transforming power of Jesus Christ within you.
Do not fear those who Lord it over you, try to intimidate you, push you out of the way or simply blank you, because they cannot see you or what you are about. GOD SEES IT ALL, but in His grace, love and mercy, He will not allow you to come to ruin by thinking too highly of yourself. He will finish the good work He started in you and will destroy every bit of pride and self-centeredness in you until such a time when all people see when they look at you, is not your success in whatever you are doing, your ability, giftedness, accomplishment or vision, but the light and love of Jesus Christ pouring out of you into the world around you. That will always be 70×7 more powerful than any outreach event thought out by man, because although the splendour and spiritual repercussions of what you are doing are unseen by the natural eye, the fruits of that “invisibility”, that sacrifice, are like the mustard seed that though being the smallest of seeds, grew into the most awesome tree. Never underestimate the effectiveness that those who are invisible to the world, who play insignificant roles within their immediate environments be it in their private life, their work or their ministry, have for the kingdom of God!
I cannot reconcile those in ministry: teachers, pastors, prophets, evangelists, etc, who constantly gravitate towards being in the public eye and being recognised by their efforts, be it nationally, internationally or even more so within their own local community and environment, I cannot reconcile those men and women, with the true calling of a Christian, which is to live a life of humility and servanthood, a call to vulnerability and invisibility, because God’s strength can only shine in our weakness and because the moment we are noticed by the world, our motivation becomes tainted and the center of all we do is no longer Jesus but ourselves. I cannot reconcile those who will time after time go out of their way to make their identity known, their name recognised and admired in those circles professional and/or social networks where they operate: their blog, their book, their church, their radio interview, their tv appearance and on and on the “how great I am” pursuit continues. I cannot reconcile this with the voice of Jesus urging us to pray where no one can see us, to give of our money and possessions without ensuring everybody who knows us is fully aware that we do so. I cannot reconcile those who preach love and forgiveness to the world, with the fact that when they step down from their pulpit, they seem to forget their calling and responsibility as a shepherd, and sitting in judgement of everyone else around them, they become the sheep, or worse still, the goats that parade themselves as examples of righteousness and spirituality. To me an authentic follower of Jesus Christ, cannot simultaneously be the one and same thing than a life where people take notice of the person and their ministry, and not the traits of Jesus Christ in them, because the force that drives the latter annihilates the purity of the former. Pride and humility cannot coexist, just as a servant’s heart and the ambitious heart of a worldly leader are very different engines that drive two very different beings: in one the Spirit produces more of the Spirit, in the other, the flesh only goes on to produce more flesh and attract to itself more of the same.
Let this 5 minute video encourage you in your “invisibility”, for it is the foolish things of this world that God uses to shame those who are wise and strong in their own eyes. The call to invisibility is one that not many will willingly choose, and it is one that many will go way, way out of their way to convince themselves that the genuine and acceptable reason for their aversion to anonymity is the fact that they are a special breed who couldn’t possibly go unnoticed, because they have bigger “fish to fry”, or should I say larger nets to fill?
It is my experience that the presence of the living God is not found amongst those who strive for bigger nets so that they can “catch” more fish, but in the midst of those who have allowed their lives to become a “living sacrifice”. Every single time I read the New Testament, I hear the heart of Jesus crying out not for us to aim at larger numbers to follow Him but urging us to help set the captives free, comfort them in their pain, lighten their burden, offer them the love of Jesus and the path to a new life with Jesus at its center. His message is all about redemption and reconciliation with our Heavenly Father, about freedom and salvation. Why then does The Church concern itself more with bigger nets and bigger barns than it does with the state of a man’s soul? I wonder whether when Jesus said: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” in Matthew 16:26, he had in mind those who today have neglected the souls of men, because they are in pursuit of more fish, statistics on a page. “Get behind me Satan”, Jesus said to Peter, “You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” Matthew 16:23