Nov 2, 2007

you asked for it: nameless wisdom - pt 2

Not to sound like a

broken record

warped tape

smudgy CD

corrupted mp3 file

a repetitive blogger, but G-Man wondered: Why some people choose to remain "Nameless." Even in the Bible there are people who do great things but not really a name.
"There's something pretty special about anonymity." - Unknown author
I like Unknown's stuff... he really does a great job. Gets around a lot, to.

Something that I heard during my formative years of Christianity was a piece of wisdom from Mike Swider, long-time coach of Wheaton Football and a motivational speaker. He said:

"Do something for someone else without getting found out about it. That will check your motives."
Of course, this is merely a rewording of what Jesus articulated:

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:1-4)
This is more than a "Bible command" - it's a key to freedom through a highly subversive way of countering "approval addition." According to Jesus, we forfeit and miss a blessing when we do things to be seen by others... seeking a pat on the back kind of demeans the "well done good and faithful servant" words of God we might one day hear, stealing away the intrinsic connection to our Creator and replacing it with an external pat on the back from another person.

I think this is why some people choose to remain "nameless" in their acts of servanthood. When we do good for others without anyone knowing about it, we learn that the praise of other people doesn't actually matter. It's holding our tongue when in a room of people we are tempted to show off our knowledge of something... giving away money anonymously... filling someone's car up with groceries without them tracing it back to us... all of this allows us to taste true freedom, for when we practice positive secrecy we become less enslaved by a culture that hands out tropies for everything.
Side note - think about that for a moment... what are we saying to a generation of kids when "everyone gets a trophy?" There are times when this is appropriate, of course, but how often does the kid who works very hard get the same trophy as the kid on the sideline who picked grass? I had like two tropies growing up... and I had to work for them. I'm not trying to make a statement here... just wrestling with this myself. What does this create in them? How will this impact the world?

Secretly helping others feels good, doesn't it? Sure, we like the pat on the back and there are days I crave it. I think I'm honestly most vulnerable to it after I've put myself out there on somethinge... like after a message, I am most aware of my desire to receive affirmation from others. It's like a narcotic and it takes a lot of me choosing God over self in those moments to simply be content having been faithful to put the words out there.

The most joyful Christians I’ve known live for an audience of One. They don’t work to gain the approval of others—instead they yearn for the approval of their Heavenly Father. They agree with the Apostle Paul who wrote the Corinthians and said, “It is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”

So here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling...
  • Take the visitor counter off your web site/blog.

  • Stop introducing yourself with a title.

  • Pray for someone who won't return your phone calls... pray for them to see God in their day and taste of His goodness. And keep calling them anyway, because they matter.

  • Leave anonymouse gifts on your neighbors doorsteps that have to do with things they like.

  • That guy in your neighborhood who is gone all day and has the unkept lawn? Mow it for him.

  • Downsize your car to avoid monthly payments... use the money you'd spend making payments to instead build a well in Africa.

  • Memorize a book/portion of Scripture and live so deeply with it that it transforms you... but don't tell anyone you have studied and memorized it.

  • The next time you can drop a name... don't. Nor the time after that. And so on.

  • Pay for the car behind you on the next toll bridge.

Got another idea?


Michael R. Cline said...

wow. Thanks for the practical insights.

I know in Seminary, the desire to drop names (not of who I know, but of who I've read) has been overwhelming in class sessions. I have told my wife of this and had her hold me accountable in my speech to others.

Being a talker, vowing to not say anything in class (minus a strong leading from the Spirit) has been a huge blessing for me. Listening is the best skill for humility in my life.

Jennifer said...

I love the "anonymous" game. This weekend I had a doze of it played on me.

I had been helping some friends wallpaper and paint a new home they will be renting. There is lead based paint in it, so there is a deadline that we are working on to get ready for the big move next weekend. I have been logging a lot of hours there and I've not been at my house to get some things done. The ground could no longer be seen from all of the leaves and I have been concerned when I would be able to get to it before the first snowfall. (There is no tech team here to pay to do it!)

I went home on Saturday night at 11pm after working for 13 hours on wallpapering to find that some guys had come over and had taken care of my leaves! I was so excited! These guys had been doing some odd jobs for a young woman in our church who just lost her husband and then came to my place. I have been told through the grapevine that they will return this week to cut it before winter.

I know how much this has touched my little ticker and I would encourage anyone to pick up a rake or a shovel when the time is right and make a difference!

And just for the record...wallpapering can screw up your mind really bad! WOW!

Rachele said...

Hey Pastor Tony,

I was wondering if you knew anything about generational curses. I see that you give a lot of insight on different topics and I was hoping you could give me some spiritual insight on this topic.


Because of Him,

Tony Myles said...

I've done some study on this, Rachele, and so here's the long/short of it...

1) Generational curses do exist, spoken about in the Bible but also affirmed sociologically and biologically by various sources (Psychology Today, Time Magazine, etc). Simply put, if a parent is "bent" in certain direction, his/her kids will grow up with that bent. (See Exodus 34:6-7, Deuteronomy 1:26-38)

2) Bents can be corrected, though. Some have suggested that it's a good idea to confess your sins and your family's sins, perhaps through a list of sorts that helps you lay them before the Lord. The best sign, though, is if the child chooses obedience/agreement with God instead of rebellion against Him. (See Ezekiel 18:14-20, Jeremiah 31:29-32)

3) Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He declared to one person "Go now and leave your life of sin," and that's good counsel. (John 8:11) If you place your life in Him, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Rachele said...

Thanks I appreciate it