You are not called to be noteworthy or special or more successful than your peers, or to be more successful than an earlier version of yourself, or to hustle your way into a better life. You are called to look more like Jesus in each new season. That’s what it means to move forward even when the objective measures of life feel like they’re going backward.
What you do for Jesus, in each and every new life circumstance, may not even be noticed by many. But God will notice. He will bless you for serving him faithfully in every life phase. You have been called with a great calling, a high calling, a holy calling. In your corner of the world, you are tasked and asked to represent God—to shine brightly with the image and inscription that he has impressed into your soul.
The American poet Jack Gilbert was the winner of all kinds of awards and accolades. He was featured on several magazine covers and had access to the perks that go along with a certain amount of celebrity.
Then he intentionally allowed his name to be forgotten.
Gilbert was deeply uninterested in making a name for himself. Why? Because he preferred a life of wonder and delight, and for him, the two—the celebrity-status life and the wonder-delight life—could not coexist.
This is the lesson, it seems, God is teaching me while I once again find myself at home with my boys: Invisibility is not the same as insignificance. A cruciform existence, a life spent serving others, is a life being developed into one of worship and wonder and gladness.
So, during this interval, I have handed my tasks and title over to someone else on our church staff, and God has given me the grace to do so. (And trust me, I recognize the irony that a role at a church is a servant’s role; it’s not a “title.” Still, it’s been a struggle to let go.)
It’s not forever, I know. And I am doing my best to joyfully embrace this time at home. I trust that God is using this circumstance, as he does in all our circumstances when surrendered to him, to make me more like that polished coin he created me to be.
I am also learning to internalize what Beth Moore says,
True greatness will never come to those who seek to be great. It will come to those who make themselves of no reputation and give their unseen everyday lives, their everyday energies, their everyday faith to serving others amid their own everyday sufferings & unrequited desires.
Maybe you’re at home changing diapers and raising littles, wondering if the next season will ever come. Maybe you’re embarking on a new career path or earning a new degree, hoping it leads to the next big thing. Maybe you are heading up a new project or organization. Or maybe God has put you on the sidelines for a time.
At the end of the day, the things we achieve, the positions we lead, are not as important as the One we serve. Any role, any title, any leadership successes—they are beautiful things, gifts from God, but they are secondary things when compared to the joy of being made like Jesus and making him known.
In all of it, through every new juncture, you are called to reflect Jesus like the image-bearing, name-of-God-wearing coin you are. Each life stage matters for our spiritual formation and growth. Each builds upon the next, in miraculous, transformative ways. So don’t despise your life season. And don’t give up, either. Reflect God’s image in every life phase and watch how he works all things for your good and his glory. How true it is— if the Lord is your shepherd; you may sometimes fail forward, but you certainly won’t go backward. You’ll have everything you need.
Taken from Known: How Believing Who God Says You Are Changes Everything by Aubrey Sampson. Copyright © 2021. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Aubrey Sampson serves as pastor of discipleship and equipping and is a part of the preaching team at Renewal Church in West Chicago, which she co-planted with her husband, Kevin. Aubrey writes regularly for Christine Caine’s Propel Women and has contributed to Proverbs 31, Ann Voskamp’s A Holy Experience, Christianity Today, and more. She speaks at churches and events around the country. Aubrey is earning her master’s degree in Evangelism and Leadership at Wheaton College and serves on Lausanne North America’s “Women in Church Leadership” strategic think tank. Deeply passionate about helping hurting Christians find healing so that they can fully embrace their God-given identities and purposes, she has authored three books, Known, The Louder Song, and Overcomer.