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100 Years From Now
I like reading biographies of dead people. Actually, biographies of dead people are just about all I read for fun. Some of my friends consider me weird and wonder why I don’t have any good hobbies. But I love getting to know a person from a former era, someone history has chosen to remember for some accomplishment or office, some heroic act or unique accomplishment. I especially enjoy reading biographies of leaders who abandoned themselves to the opportunities of their time, hoping to make a difference for good. Men like John Adams, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, George Marshall, and Abraham Lincoln have taught me countless lessons about leadership and courage and vision and endurance.
However, reading biographies of leaders comes with one gigantic temptation, one enormous risk. The risk: In reading about the men history considers great, I’m enticed to be great in the eyes of history. On some future date, perhaps one hundred years from now, I hope that someone will read about me. Of course I don’t hope to be a great politician or military leader, like these men were. I am a pastor. Next year, Lord willing, I will plant a church. My course in history tends in a very ecclesiastical direction. But I hope, in my own little evangelical world, to make a big enough mark in history that someone will read of me, of my church, of my preaching, 100 years from now. I’m envious of those men, my own age, who already seem on track to have a 100 year old name. And church planting comes filled with temptations to desire prominence–to make my church a platform for my reputation. Deep down I want a 100 year old name. A ridiculous desire, unrealistic, considering my gifting and capacity. But present and hungry all the same.
Why? Why this disgusting, pathetic desire? Not because I am ambitious, not because I am driven, no. Far from it. My heart is too easily satisfied with the glory that comes from men. Instead of wanting the truly valuable, the honor of living and giving and sacrificing for God, I want a worthless 100 year name. Instead of wanting the eternal honor of His reward, I am focused on the cheep blue ribbon of a 100 year old biography. I see this scrap of desire blowing around the back alley of my heart, almost every time I read or hear of a famous man. And, ironically, every time I meditate on this worthless scrap of a desire, it turns into a great weight of anxiety and fear and worry. But Jesus has created in me a greater longing, more powerful still. He has planted in me the desire that His name would be glorified in me, and me in Him, according to his grace. (2 Thess. 1:12) As I look forward to planting a new church I am trying to kill this craving and celebrate the greater hunger that is in me because I am in Him.
So, to my fellow church planters. To any who share this sad desire for a 100 year name. Let me encourage all of us with the following reminders:
- The Lord has already written our biography, whether famous or forgotten in history
- The Lord’s approval is all we need, all we want
- Service in secret receives heavenly acclaim
- The Lord remembers what man often forgets, and honors what man often disdains
- The Lord’s sheep are more valuable than our reputation
The Lord has called us to live for his glory. Let us not trade loving His glory for craving a 100 year name on earth.
After all, 100 years from now, we will be with Him.