At church this morning, the sermon title was entitled “Not About You”. In my opinion, this was the best-delivered sermon that I’ve heard my pastor give since I started attending this church about two years ago. It wasn’t my favorite sermon of my pastor’s, mind you, for that honor goes to his sermon that I discussed in my post here, for that particular sermon really helped me where I was. But, in terms of delivery, his sermon today was excellent.
To highlight the theme of today’s service, I’ll quote from the Prayer of Confession:
“We expect commendation for our act of benevolence; we like others to see us and how well we behave. Titles and honors are worn with pride, sometimes with envy, when others about us seem to be getting ahead. O God, forgive our craving to be exalted; help us to be humble in the knowledge that we live by grace alone.”
I think that many of us would like to be noticed. I don’t believe that’s a bad thing. It’s part of fitting into a community, or getting a job, or attaining professional advancement, or getting a date. Plus, it encourages and motivates us when people notice our hard work and appreciate what we are doing. Where I struggle is that I have tended to obsess over being noticed. I resent when I am ignored, for I then feel alone and alienated. And I also become fearful, since I fear that I won’t have the social skills to become noticed and thus make the contacts that I need to get a job that I may want (to use an example).
Sometimes, in order to be noticed in social situations, I’ve tended to go the opposite extreme from my usual practice of being quiet, in that I’ve talked a lot. But that has had downsides. People may resent me for dominating the conversation. They may feel that I’m being manipulative—-that I’m being sociable and trying to get noticed for my own personal advancement (and possibly to the detriment of their own advancement). And what’s sad is that, even though there have been times when I have talked a lot in certain social situations, people don’t even remember that I was with them in those situations. It’s like, man, all that work was for nothing!
I don’t think that it’s wrong to want to be noticed. But we (or at least I) should balance that out with other things: recognizing that there is a wider and broader world than just me (imagine that!), service to others, and not getting completely bent out of shape if I’m not as appreciated as I’d like—-which implies having a strong inner core, or faith.