“I think I may have loved Jesus more in the past.”
When I heard Francis Chan say this on the Thrive Leadership Podcast, I was rocked. I had never heard someone put to words exactly what my burnt out spirit was trying to articulate. I was tired, I was stressed, and I was done. I felt that I was so worn out and feeling stretched so thin that I just wanted to be done. I had taken my pursuit of full-time ministry and placed it on an unhealthy pedestal, and that was connecting me to church ministry, but not to the person of Jesus. Friends, that is such an unhealthy place to operate from.
Sometimes, we lose sight of Jesus. We get so lost in the pursuits of other things that we completely neglect what God is ultimately calling us to: a deeper relationship with him. God is relational, not rational; he cares so much more about where we are in relationship with him than where we are in life. I am convinced that God is more interested in how you steward your relationship with him than the specifics of your money, time, energy, and other resources. So, when we begin to see these other things overtaking our relationship with Jesus, that must serve as a warning light in your relationship with Jesus; a warning light that we are being blinded by our pursuits of more.
There is an account in Mark 10 of Jesus healing a blind man named Bartimaeus. However, before healing him, Jesus begins his interaction with him by asking a simple question:
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
You see, this isn’t the first time that Jesus has asked this question. In fact, just before this miracle, Mark 10 records a conversation Jesus has with his disciples. James and John, two of Jesus’ disciples come to Jesus and make a request:
“Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
When I first read this, I was surprised by their lack of humility. They didn’t start with a question, but a demand. They tell Jesus exactly what they want, not seeming to care if he agrees to their terms. However, Jesus doesn’t get mad, but asks them the same question he will later ask the blind man:
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
They don’t ask for wisdom. They don’t ask for wealth. They ask to sit at Jesus’ right and left in his Kingdom, a place of great prominence. They ask Jesus to make them great, and let them be in charge. The Bible goes on to state that the other disciples get mad, but not at their lack of humility. The other disciples want to be important too, and want to sit at the place of prominence. They want to be important. They want to matter.
In a way, we all want this, right? We want God to give us value, importance, and prominence, but in a way recognized by culture. We want to be blessed and not have worries or needs. We want so many things, but too often, we don’t care about how Jesus brings those things about; we only care that he does. In turn, we are blinded by our desires, and we miss the fact that Jesus cares more about our relationship than our prominence.
You would think the disciples, Jesus’ closets friends, would get this right, but they don’t. Instead Bartimaeus, a fringe Biblical character, gets this right. He is described only as a blind man who ends up being healed by Jesus. He hears that Jesus is walking by, and begins to call out to Jesus for help. When people attempt to silence him, he continued to try and call out to Jesus even more. When Jesus asks him “what do you want me to do for you?,” his reply is all the example we need:
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
This man could have asked for wealth. He could have asked for prominence. He could have asked for importance. However, he asks for the one thing he needed, which was to see.
We are so susceptible to missing the things that matter for the things we want. Our culture screams so much louder than voices of reason, and it’s saying that you are not enough. It says “You need more.” You need more followers. You need to be prominent. You need more money. You need more. However, Jesus does not care about us having more of anything except him. We need more Jesus. We need to break away from the noise of “more” and get back to simply seeing that Jesus is enough.
When we are blinded by our desires for prominence, importance, and value, we need to remember what really matters. However, our blindness is often much harder to spot than Bartimaeus’s. We are blinded by our pursuit of more, but are too busy to stop and understand our blindness. It wasn’t until I realized how blinded I was by ministry that I realized it was actually proving detrimental to my family and my relationship with Jesus.
When it came down to it, I walked away from ministry in 2017 because I was blinded by being in ministry and was missing Jesus because even the best of things can blind us from our relationship with Jesus. Jesus tells us that we are enough. We are important. We are valuable. We are His. We don’t need more of anything but him. Rest in that truth, because the pursuit of more is exhausting.
Trust the process. Take your next step. Now is your moment.