John 3:22-30 says: Then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. Jesus spent some time with them there, baptizing people. 23 At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism. 24 (This was before John was thrown into prison.) 25 A debate broke out between John’s disciples and a certain Jew over ceremonial cleansing. 26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.” 27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
I love this attitude! This is how we should all approach our ministries. Too often, ministries become about the leader and their influence. The ministry becomes a source of power and control for the ladder and what once started as a mission for God morphs subtly into something that is more about the leader than about Christ. Their mission becomes maintaining power and stoking their personal ego instead of whatever it is they set out to accomplish.
This can also happen to businesses, organizations, and churches that set out on a mission but become distracted by the day-to-day operations. The mission can become lost in the internal politics that naturally occur. Instead of the mission, the workers and leaders began to focus on the operations and their own position within this internal ecosystem and how their position has them viewed internally and externally to the organization.
This can even happen on an individual basis. People can be so caught up on growing their social media follower count or personal reach that they say or do things that don’t align with their beliefs or compromise their integrity simply to get more likes and follows. This desire to grow a following on Instagram, YouTube, or whatever platform they’re focused on becomes more important than maintaining their integrity and honoring God. You can see this all over our society with the sexualization of platforms like Instagram and the rise of sites like OnlyFans.
Long story short, it is easy to get off track and forget that we’re serving God and not ourselves. It is easy to get intoxicated by power and fame even within small circles. John did not fall victim to that. Quite the contrary, he shared directly with his followers the famous phrase, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ He shared this from the beginning and even as Jesus arrived on the scene he was not jealous or worried about the loss of followers or ministry. John had built a powerful following but he was more than happy to see Jesus take on those followers because that was His mission and he knew it and didn’t forget it.
The truth is we’re not here for our fame and glory. That could be part of our journey but as followers of Christ, we’re here to lead people to Him. That may be done a number of ways but we need to be careful about making our churches, ministries, and even businesses about us and not Him. In everything, we need to do we need to remember who the true hero of the story is and it is not us!