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The Blessing of Obscurity

This article and the next two are part of the resources we give to youth leaders every two months. Other articles from youth workers worldwide in the resources section. Just as I was finishing this article, a young teen’s home-made video  has been viewed more than 32 million times on the Internet. She joins a number of people whose name went from being unheard of to being recognized worldwide in relatively short time. Today, popularity has never been easier, fame never more instantaneous. A news article, a video on the Internet or television coverage of something you did can catapult you to a social success overnight.

With these developments, many young people are pouring out their energy in the quest for fame. The goal may be as grand as worldwide recognition or simply to just be popular in town or the social circle.

The youth group too is not immune to the quest for name recognition whether it be on the stage in person or through a technological presentation. I have cheered along when kids in my group would be up front to the accolades of people, who would not want their young people to shine? But lately, I’ve been reflecting that as encouraging as being cheered on could be, chasing fame may not be in the best interests of the youth ministry.

With fame comes a danger that many people, especially young teens, have a hard time recognizing or dealing with.1

And not all youth are created for the spotlight. Many of the gifts in the Bible are not the upfront kind. 2

Now, consider Jesus’ example. Though the Lord became renowned throughout the land during his time, he avoided the spotlight as much as possible.

On one occasion “…he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.” Mark 1:34

Later, when told that everyone was looking for him, he said “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” Mark 1:38

His brothers even took note of his behavior. Before an upcoming big event they said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (John 7:24) But he did not agree.

Fame may be of some worth in man’s world but in God’s realm obscurity – being considered insignificant or little known, may be of greater value still.

Read the second part here.

Notes:

  1. Dr. R. Millman of the Cornell School of Medicine, after years of observation notes that isolation, paranoia, depression and rage are common to celebrities. See article.
  2. This comes from the GYMN Level 1 notebook, p.29, pp34-35 also give a listing of Biblical gifts.
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