At 20 I wanted your approval.
At 30 I strove to succeed.
At 40 I subtly sought your praises and recognition.
Now, at 50, I yearn to make a contribution.
I’m coming to realize it’s far better to be a small part of something bigger than me. I have shunned the spotlight, given up opportunities to grab my “following” and let go of dreams which would mean my name would go on beyond my short years on this earth. I am grasping at greater impact these days – and, as many things in God’s kingdom go, it’s upside down from how I had expected it to be.
LIVING ON PURPOSE
Recently, on a Tuesday evening I sat with a woman in downtown Bakersfield, a city most people avoid getting off the freeway to visit. Sitting in the 12-month recovery program at the Rescue Mission, she cautiously poured out her heart about being orphaned and abused her whole life.
It would be an understatement to say the privilege of entering into her pain for the sake of healing surpasses having my book on the NY Times best seller’s list. While moments like this won’t get me any award or approval in the known world, small touches with great meaning comprise what I live for these days.
Years ago I wanted my own name to be known. (Ewww … embarrassingly true!) I needed some sort of validation and I would have sworn to you that I didn’t. I knew it wasn’t healthy to want approval, so I denied that desire in myself and walked the conflicted road of wanting recognition while needing to say I didn’t.
If you liked my page, followed my posts, subscribed to my blog, it meant I was good, worthy, acceptable. It’s really something to step back and not need external confirmation. God had to take me through some serious death to self, and that, invariably is simultaneously painful and profitable.
What I want now is to make a difference – and not even a big one. I want to matter quietly. I want to touch intimately, and in that process be one of many instruments God uses to bless and heal others. Most of all, I want Him. That’s a world away from wanting approval.
BE A PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER
Up until the past few years I spent much of my time in the Christian church serving on committees and ministries. I gave my time to people in need and spoke to groups about how to walk more completely with Jesus. All of that was quite good, no doubt. The past two years God has drawn me into a different form of serving.
We came to our current church almost three years ago. They asked me to speak at the Christmas Tea. From that opportunity, I was invited to lead our women’s retreat in the coming Spring. A little while later, the three women who coordinate all the women’s events asked me to join them in being a part of organizing the ministry as a part of serving the women at our church.
NOT A ONE WOMAN SHOW
Maybe you know of churches where one woman (the Women’s Ministry Director) has become the focal point. She doesn’t usually want to be so central and exalted, but, like it or not, she starts to function as the heart of the ministry. Things can quickly become off balance. She stands on an unintended pedestal.
In the current women’s ministry where I participate, there are four of us in leadership. I like to think of us as four table legs. We support what is going on in the ministry to women in our church. Each of us plays a role, because not one of us is more critical than the other.
A table isn’t much use unless it draws people together and supports what is laid upon it. No one focuses on the table, because we focus on what’s going on around it.
I have learned something beautiful about being a part of something bigger than myself. I don’t need to be “Patty Scott, Women’s Ministry Director”. As a matter of fact, I don’t WANT to be that. It is far more beautiful to be a piece of a larger picture.
Our most beautiful moments come from finding our small place in the bigger picture.
FOLLOWERS OR FOLLOWING?
In a society where messages barrage us to gather followers, increase our email subscribers and reach a target audience, the temptation is great for each individual to become a product. We are selling ourselves and in the process, we sometimes sell ourselves short. Aiming for fame and approval, we can become slaves to others – Did they like my post? How many read, and what did they comment? These approval barometers can become determinants of our wellbeing and distract us from deeper peace in knowing the One who made us loves us enough for all other “likes” combined.
I want to focus on being a follower of His rather than gathering followers of mine. His ways always lead to the lighter yoke and greater freedom.
Being a small part of a bigger whole leads to great joy. My delight in joint service doesn’t diminish what I do as an individual. Not needing to be a key figure, known by many or some sort of icon has brought freedom.
We are designed to contribute to something greater than ourselves. Consider a symphony, a choir, a mosaic, or an ocean. Each small contribution into the greater makes a difference. The parts enhance the whole without overshadowing.
At 50, I’m grateful for smallness, simplicity and being just plain old me.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Want to stop chasing down followers and start pursuing your passion?
- Decide what really matters to you. What makes you tick or gives your life meaning?
- Become a part of something greater than yourself. Partner with others in your purpose.
- Be grateful for your smallness … or your medium-ness or whatever size you are. Be you. You are the only one qualified.
Now .. that said, to subscribe, click the link or follow me on FB … kidding!! … but, seriously, if you do want to hear more from me about slowing and simplifying, go here. And if you want to hear from me more often, I’d love to bless you … you can subscribe to my email list and I pinky-promise not to spam your inbox. You’ll just receive weekly goodness from me to you.