He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” John 1:20
When evangelist Gypsy Smith got saved, an elderly gentleman explained to him the importance of trusting Christ alone. Gypsy Smith replied, “I cannot trust myself, for I am nothing; and I cannot trust in what I have, for I have nothing; and I cannot trust in what I know, for I know nothing.” The only thing left for him to trust in was Jesus Christ. Source: Gypsy Smith, His Life, and Work; Rodney Smith
One of the toughest challenges for people in pastoral ministry is spiritual arrogance. To be fair, many Christian pastors do their best to walk humbly before God. They shun the limelight as best as they can while trying to provide credible leadership to their congregations. These pastors are not trying to be rich, famous, or “in charge” perse. They just want to serve to the glory of God.
Still, there are some ministry leaders who think their church is their private domain and their congregation is their fan club. They pride themselves in their homiletical skills and relish the accolades they receive for proclaiming the word of God. They often bully their congregation and assert ungodly authority that stifles genuine harmony within their congregation.
Christian leaders are servant leaders, with emphasis on “servant.” Our foremost ministry is to serve the one who called us as “under-shepherds” to His flock. Part of our job description is to direct all honor, all glory, all praise, all attention to the owner of the flock who is Christ Jesus.
This is exactly what John the Baptist did in today’s text. When the priests and Levites sent by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem asked him if he was the messiah, John did not fail to confess freely, “I am not the Messiah.” John the Baptist was a very respected and popular spiritual leader. Jesus said of John the Baptist, “of all who have ever lived, none is great than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). Wow! Yet, when John was asked if he was the Messiah, John quickly said no. In fact, in John 1:27, John the Baptist confessed, I am not even worthy to untie the straps of the Messiah’s sandal.
Just as John directed all attention to Jesus, we should do the same. Therefore, I choose the story of evangelist Gypsy Smith as today’s illustration. In John 12:32, Jesus told His disciples, “When I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” That is it. We must lift up Jesus in every circumstance, so He draws all people to Himself. Our preaching and teaching should direct people to Christ. Even our professional accomplishments should direct people to Christ. In as much as it is within our control, we should refrain from patting ourselves in the back and deflect all glory to the Messiah.
John the Baptist could have easily gotten away with pretending to be the messiah. He was popular and well respected even by King Herod Antipas who ultimately beheaded him. John had a larger following than Jesus at the time he was asked if he was the Messiah. No one would have disputed his claim if he did profess to be the Messiah. But John was wise enough to direct the religious leaders to Christ.
Many of the things ministry leaders do will look as if they are the result of personal skills or innate talents. But in truth, we know nothing except what has been revealed to us by God. We can do nothing except that which God has equipped us to do. Therefore, in all circumstances, we should direct people to Christ who alone deserves all the glory and recognition.
Questions for Personal Reflection
What does it mean to you to direct people to Christ?
How do you handle accolades from the world or from your church?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, I humble myself at your feet and confess that I am just a servant. Please remind me not to trust myself, for I am nothing. When I am tempted to idolize earthly accomplishments, please remind me that I cannot trust in what I have, for I have nothing. And when people are impressed with my knowledge of your word, please remind me that I cannot trust in what I know, for I know nothing.” In the end, please ensure that I direct everyone to Christ.