“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30 TLB)
John the Baptist’s words have stuck with me for over a week now. For a quick refresher course, he spoke those words after his own disciples were growing a bit envious that Jesus’s ministry and baptism were starting to outshine John’s. John’s response? To joyfully proclaim that he’s fulfilling the great job God has given, and that he must step aside and become less as Jesus becomes more.
I’m not so sure I have successfully followed that example, and perhaps that’s why it’s stuck with me ever since it came up in my Bible study class. For one, I’m still not always sure I’m doing the “job” meant for me. I find myself thinking that there is something more to do; yet when presented with the opportunity to do more, it feels a bit overwhelming. Sometimes I step out into it. Other times, I hide away for a bit. I’m not sure that I could do what John did. He was, after all, a bit eccentric.
And then second, to joyfully become less when one who eclipsed him came along. I’m sure it might have been easier since it was Jesus. But what if, in whatever my ministry or work is, someone comes along who’s more skilled, better equipped, or pointing back to God’s glory more than I ever could? Would I feel joy stepping aside after all that I’ve put into it…or envy? I’ve seen this happen time and again, maybe not in such big ways, but it’s happened. Often I’ve fallen short and been very much in need of grace.
John’s legacy is that he paved the way for Jesus. He dutifully lived out his life, fulfilling God’s job meant for him. And then he joyfully stepped aside when the One with the bigger job came along. Oh what humbleness! I pray that I consistently seek out God’s call in my life, and that when it’s time to become less, I would choose Jesus and find joy in stepping aside so that others can shine.
Miel can be reached via email here.