The Prescription for your Path

“As there are no little people in God’s sight, so there are no little places.”[1] I remember where I was the first time I heard this quote from Francis Schaeffer’s work No Little People. I was sitting in the congregation as a visitor at Hulen Street Church in Fort Worth (where I have now been a member for five years). As a first-semester seminary student, my mind and heart were full of expectation, especially concerning where the Lord may take me in the ministry. Having watched and seen so many “celebrity” pastors, I remember thinking and hoping that maybe God would direct my ministry to such a height someday. Yet as our pastor, Wes Hamilton, preached and referenced this quote, I remember my heart being shaken, and my direction in ministry changed.

My assumption up to that point—and if we are honest, the assumption of so many of us—was that God was always going to call me to bigger and better places. The small ministry that I had before seminary was in my past. Greatness, notoriety, and prosperity were surely on the horizon. Yet the truth is, this is the way of the flesh and not the way of Christ!

Jesus prescribes the position of the heart that must prevail in the life of His disciples in Luke 14:7-11:

And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus’ prescription to those who heard this parable was simple: take the lowest position and trust the Host to put you in the right position. What Jesus teaches in this parable is echoed throughout the New Testament. In Matthew, Luke, and John, we have the example of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. In Philippians 2, the Apostle Paul reminds his readers to have the same mind in them as Christ Jesus, who took on flesh, took up the cross, and humbled Himself to the point of death. In 1 Peter 5, Peter encourages his readers, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (v. 6). Schaeffer explains the prescription of this passage: “This is the way of the Christian: he should choose the lesser place until God extrudes him into a position of more responsibility.”[2]

Living out the prescription of Jesus and the message of the New Testament requires us to always seek faithfulness over a following. When we embrace New Testament humility, we are not promised a massive following. When we embrace New Testament humility, there is no promise that money will flow in. When we embrace New Testament humility, there is no assurance that any man will ever see us as a success. BUT there is the promise that we will be exalted by the Lord. Choosing the lesser path may never lead to the praises of man, but it will lead to the approval of our Savior.

Additionally, living out the prescription of Jesus requires us to always seek out piety over a platform. As disciples of Jesus, our aim should be to grow in our devotion to Jesus and not to grow our ministry reach. For many of us (myself included), false humility pervades our social media channels. We use false gratitude and fancy phrases that are posted, pictured, and planted all over our social media feeds in hopes that our reach will grow farther and our notoriety will increase. These false actions often take our attention away from faithfully following Jesus. We are tempted to grow our own following instead of more faithfully following Him.

Since the way of Christ is so clear, we should do two things. First, we should follow Christ’s call, no matter the span of our influence. Second, we should work as servants and not seek celebrity status. Schaeffer says,

Jesus commands Christians to seek consciously the lowest room. All of us—pastors, teachers, professional religious workers and nonprofessional included—are tempted to say, “I will take the larger place because it will give me more influence for Jesus Christ.” Both individual Christians and Christian organizations fall prey to the temptation of rationalizing this way as we build bigger and bigger empires. But according to the Scripture this is back-wards: we should consciously take the lowest place unless the Lord Himself extrudes us into a greater one.[3]

For each of us, the command of Christ is to be humble and to trust Him alone for where we are headed. May we always seek the lower place so that we can give Christ the highest praise with our lives.

[1] Francis A. Schaeffer, No Little People (Introduction by Udo Middelmann) (p. 25). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
[2] Ibid., 29.
[3] Ibid.