In his song “Started From The Bottom”, Drake informs us:
Started from the bottom now we’re here
Started from the bottom now my whole team ******* here
The entire song is basically an ode to Drake’s fight to climb from the depths of working night shift to the heights of literally wearing every single chain, even when he’s in the house. Which sounds massively uncomfortable and a tiny bit gaudy.
As Christians, it’s easy to write off the song as the arrogant musings of a billion-dollar rap artist. I’m certainly not Drake, nor will I ever be like him, despite the fact that, I too, wear every single chain even when I’m in the house.
But I’m vulnerable to Drake syndrome (and so are you).
Everywhere I go, society tells me that that I’m massively important and that I should be building some sort of platform. I should be accumulating followers on Snapchat and Twitter. I should be erecting a massive Christian ministry that changes the entire world. I should have a tribe who looks to me for vision and leadership.
It’s on television, Instagram, Snapchat, Christian blogs. Everywhere.
I CAN AND SHOULD BE SOMEONE WHO GETS NOTICED!
It’s a lie.
Frankly, I’m increasingly terrified of contracting Drake syndrome. Of climbing to the top. Of building a platform that rises more than 3 inches off the ground.
I’m convinced that 99% of Christians, myself included, are not supposed to have much of any platform.
People Think You’re Better Than You Are
In Romans 12:3, Paul says:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
I am just as, if not more lousy than everyone else. I don’t mean that in a self-loathing way. I’m justified by God, loved by God, and loved by others. But I also know myself. I know the terrible thoughts that run through my head. I know how much I struggle with the spiritual disciplines. I know that I watch too much television (don’t spoil Luke Cage!), aren’t particularly good at family worship, and absolutely SUCK at evangelism.
Platforms make it really easy to fake it. To make people think I’m some sort of super-spiritual man who has it all together. To shine the light on my two strengths and brush my 400 weaknesses under the rug.
And the reality is, the more I fake it, the easier it is to start believing my own lies. That’s the first step toward the wheels coming off.
It’s Too Easy To Claim Glory For Yourself
I know, at least in my head, that all my success comes from God and that I can’t accomplish anything good apart from him. But success is a powerful drug. It distorts reality and clouds my thinking. Where once I truly gave all glory to God, now I only give lip service.
Yeah, yeah, I know God accomplished this. But let’s be honest: I made this happen. My skills. My charisma. My vision. My leadership.
This, of course, is utter nonsense, like believing Tony Romo will stay healthy for more than 4 weeks in a season. Nevertheless, I still buy into the utter nonsense. When I stand atop a platform of God’s building, it becomes really easy to think I created it. To forget that:
…we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
People say that Donald Trump is a man who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. True enough. But I’m the athletically challenged son of a pro ball player who thinks he’s going to make the All-Star game.
You Become A Prime Target For Satan
Not to get all hyper-spiritual and Frank Peretti-ish, but those sitting atop platforms become prime targets for attacks by Satan. Why? Because when a prominent Christian stumbles, the name of Christ is dragged through the mud. Consider what happens when a Christian is toppled from their pedestal:
- It gives unbelievers yet another reason to say, “He/she is no different than me. Looks like Christianity isn’t true after all.”
- Those who benefitted from the life and ministry of that Christian wonder if anything he/she said is actually true.
- Christians become disillusioned with the church and leaders.
Is it any wonder so many leaders find themselves the subject of intense temptation and spiritual warfare? Is it any wonder that so many leaders get caught up in secret, devastating sins?
I can sabotage myself just fine, thank you very much. I don’t need Satan’s help. I don’t need more temptation than my sinful heart already presents to me.
Your Failures Are Very, Very Public
I’ve learned first-hand that every person’s life will go to pieces at least once. Whether it’s through character failure, tragedy, illness, or burnout, every Christian will hit rock bottom at some point.
When you stand atop a platform, it’s verrrrrry difficult to admit to anyone that you’ve come to the end. That you need to step back for a while. To recover. To breathe, rest, and Sabbath. You have to run furiously just to keep from collapsing.
This leads to faking it, covering your tracks, and pretending everything is cool, all while completely disintegrating internally.
I need to be in a place where I can completely go to pieces. I need to be amidst people who will let me come unhinged. I know myself. I can barely hold things together when things are going great, let alone when my world is coming apart.
It’s not impossible to create a platform where it is safe to fall apart, but it’s incredibly difficult.
I am surrounded by a culture telling me to build myself up. To start at the bottom and climb to the top. To be someone great, someone famous, someone who does great things.
Even many Christians say that I should do amazing, world-shaking things for God. Make a global difference for Jesus.
And while I don’t disagree with doing big things for God, I find that advice contrary to 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12:
…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
A very, very, very, very few Christians are called to have a platform for the glory of God.
The rest of us are called to live quietly. To mind our own affairs. To work with our hands (or computers). To walk properly before outsiders. This is not a bad thing. It is not less spiritual to be a nobody for Jesus. It’s not less godly to only accomplish small things for Jesus.
That’s what most of us are called to.
So here’s to quiet.