“Ugh, really?” I exclaimed aloud. I was beyond frustrated. It seemed that every time I turned around, this person’s success haunted my work and ministry. I had just read a post on Facebook about a fellow author, but it wasn’t on this author’s page; it was posted on my page. The writer of the post seemingly went on and on about this other author, saying how awesome it was that I worked with them briefly. Not once did the writer of the post mention any of my books or the work I had put out— only the work and success of this other author. It seemed like I just couldn’t get out of this person’s shadow, for now our names were linked and I would forever be associated with their success.
The madness continued into the following day when my grandmother handed me a newspaper clipping of… guess what— the success of this same individual. Once more, my response was, “Ugh, really?” It was becoming obvious that I would never escape this vicious cycle. Was I jealous? Possibly. Was I aggravated? Most certainly! This author had succeeded in selling more copies of their first book than I had sold in my three-book career. It was unfair! But more than this realization, I had to face this person’s success with the realization that I had played a role in making it happen.
For a brief season, I had partnered with this individual to make their book a reality. Although the process didn’t move forward as planned, what really matters is that this author moved on without me. I was given credit where credit was due, but our professional connection was terminated. Although we went our separate ways, I have found we will always be linked thanks to the completed manuscript.
As the jealousy and animosity built inside me, I questioned the nature of my feelings. I realized that what it came down to was wanting to be at the top. It didn’t seem right that I spent over four years in my writing career: three books, one music single, a handful of book signings, and minimal financial gain. This author, seemingly a rival in my eyes, has sold books in the thousands and is continuing to move forward in career and opportunities. I have spent enough time in the creative line of work to know what it feels like to be at the top: winning contests, receiving applause and accolades, and being the one who is sought after for a particular craft. Suddenly, I found myself at the bottom… far from greatness.
It seems that Jesus’ disciples had to contend with this issue too, so I’m in good company. In Mark 9, the disciples argue along the road as they are walking along; their argument considers this question: “Who is the greatest?” True, some of the disciples accompanied Jesus up the mountain and witnessed the transfiguration, but even those three disciples could not claim they were among the greatest of Jesus’ disciples. Jesus, knowing about the argument, questions His disciples and responds in this way: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the vary last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).
Now, in my case, I didn’t necessarily want to be first. I just wanted to receive the same recognition as this other author. I didn’t want my career and livelihood to go up in smoke behind the caravan leading to the one who has had greater success. I was tired of playing second fiddle. I wanted to play first chair violin in the proverbial orchestra. So I guess in the long run, I actually did want to be first.
I had to consider what Jesus was saying in Mark 9. What does it mean to be first? Well, it means to actually be last and a servant. In this day and age, its hard to imagine being a servant in the United States of America. We can practically have anything we want whenever we want it. We are encouraged to think of ourselves as first priority and look out for others as a secondary focus. Its not an easy concept to consider when jealousy reigns and the world is far from fair.
But I want to make an effort to play the servant’s role in my particular situation, so I am asking myself what this might look like as I move forward. Perhaps I could make an effort to pray for the author and see our work as more of a shared goal and interest instead of a competition. I could certainly pray for this person and ask that God would bless their efforts. For some reason God is choosing to invest in this person and grant them success in their endeavors. I am hoping and praying that through this increased platform, people are being reached for the kingdom and lives are being changed. Perhaps in my role as a worship leader, I am serving my own unique demographic— a group of people that the author will not have the opportunity to reach in their own ability. We both have our individual roles to fulfill, and for this season, I seem to have the smaller, less glamorous role.
But I can’t look at my success, or lack thereof, as if it is second rate. I need to serve right here and right now as it if it is the biggest stage and platform of all. Sure, I may not have found incredible success in my writing, but leading in worship is one of the greatest privileges of all and it comes with great Kingdom reward. I may only reach a few hundred people each week, but in God’s eyes, it is enough. My music and presentation of the written word are my offering to Him, and His honor and glory is the greatest aim of all!
2 thoughts on “The Greatest”
Amen Cassie, those are words I live by!! ” What would you have me do today Lord, right here and right now?” As long as I’m glorifying your name it’s what I’m supposed to be doing! Trying to get a posse together for our Rollerskatin’ Outin’, will let you know the details! Love ya!
I can’t wait to celebrate with you! I look forward to the plans being made! Thanks again for reading!