This weekend, my family went to the opening celebration of the Lorton Workhouse. It was a lot of fun and people have done a fantastic job working through everything that needed to happen to make this incredible transformation from a dangerous prison to a place of the arts. A few of those individuals were called out on Sunday night and recognized for their vision, persistence and hard work over the years it has taken. Then the event was marked with a gorgeous fireworks display - definitely rivaling what you would see anywhere on the Fourth of July.
As we were leaving, I was thinking about how great it must feel be one of those people, what a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. But, I was also thinking - how cool would it be to have a giant fireworks display for me? Now, I need to say clearly that this is not what was going on. The fireworks were for the community and were to celebrate the event, they were not for the individuals. And, since I know some of the people involved at least a little bit, I know that the people involved certainly saw them that way, not as some sort of tribute.
The point here is that I was thinking about me and how much I would enjoy being in that kind of spotlight and celebrating earthly achievements. It is kind of that want to be celebrity mentality. In my work life, I get caught up in all of that and don't even think about it. I don't think twice about having a car service pick me up at an airport, spending hundreds of dollars on a dinner with clients, flying half way across the country for a cocktail party, having dinner at the best restaurant in town, or staying in fancy hotels. Sometimes it seems like it is just what you do - it is not even special.
But sometimes you stop and think about it.
And wonder about it.
And pray about it.
And try to reconcile it with what you know is much more important.
Over the past few days I have heard "Lose My Soul" on the radio a number of times - including when I got in the car this morning. The song is by Toby Mac with Kirk Franklin and Mandisa. The entire song is full of great lyrics and I recommend that you check them out on the web. One part says:
The paparazzi flashes, and they think that it's you,
But they don't know that who you are is not what you do
The chorus is "I don't want to gain the whole world and lose my soul" and it is based on Mark 8:36 - "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"
All of us know people that work tirelessly in support of various organizations and causes - religious and secular. One thing that I have found that they have in common is that they are entirely uninterested in recognition. They don't want the admiration of others or fireworks to honor them. They want the focus on the issue or the problem that they are passionate about.
The Bible tells us many times that power and recognition in this world mean nothing by themselves. Jesus says "many who are first will be last, and the last first." Mark 10:31; Matthew 19:30 ("many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first"). Jesus gently rebuked the seventy-two who were celebrating their power over demons by saying "do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20
Catching myself thinking about how cool it would be to have people celebrating something I did served as a reminder to me of how often, and how quickly, my focus can get out of whack. So, I am writing today simply in another of my attempts to refocus and stop thinking about me.