Am I okay? Am I important? Am I making a difference?
These questions of self-validation are common–even among those who sign up for work that is often considered selfless. Such as ministry.
At a ministry conference last weekend a crowd formed around a tiny booth bearing a sign that said, “I Am Enough.” The crowd became a multitude. Finally someone called the fire marshall when the hall became too packed for safety.
As they stepped up to the “I Am Enough” sign, Kami, the booth’s keeper, tied a red superhero cape around their necks, called each by name, and repeated this simple blessing:
“Know that you are a child of the one true God. His love is the most powerful force in all of the universe. His love is in you and it flows through you. You are on a mission from God, like all good superheroes. But your mission is the most important in all the world. Your mission is to love God and love others. And on the days that you do not feel that you’re enough, know that nothing can separate you from the love of God. That love casts out fear. You are always covered in his love.”
The very countenance of each newly caped individual seemed to change as they were reminded of their royal lineage. They beamed as they posed under the words, “I Am Enough. Because He is enough.”
We all crave validation. But often we don’t look heavenward for confirmation of our worth. We look for fleeting affirmation from mere humans. We check our count of Facebook friends and likes. We look for larger attendance at our events. We wish to be rewarded with a bigger budget. We dream of seeing our names prominently displayed and frequently mentioned.
Sometimes these reaches for validation can lead to grotesque aberrations, particularly in ministry settings. Case in point: the recently chided megachurch pastor who proclaimed, “I am the brand.”
It would be healthy for ministry folk to take a cue from fellow high-profile minister John the Baptist, who, after meeting the King, said, “He must become greater; I must become less.”
That’s the kind of hero I admire. In this crazy era of best-selling superstar pastors on giant multi-site HD screens, I’ve grown a special appreciation for the more obscure servants of God who quietly “become less” in order to be faithful to the one true King. They humbly pursue their mission to love God and others, regardless of fanfare. For them, loving and serving those whom God has placed around them is enough.
Last weekend, after receiving a cape, a group of conference attendees stepped outside and saw a homeless woman attempt to negotiate a curb in her wheelchair. The wheelchair tipped, spilling the woman into the gutter. The conferees ran over, helped the woman back into her chair, and spent some time with her in friendly conversation.
Then they caped her. They looked deeply into her eyes and said, “Know that you are a child of the one true God. You are always covered in his love. You are enough. Because He is enough.”
The homeless woman wheeled down the street, beaming, validated, with her new red cape flowing in the wind behind her.
(To see more caping pictures and “I Am Enough” background, click here.)