It's the same for all ages: we want to be liked. Well, most of us, know how to deal with those feelings, keep them in check... We are not proud of trying to look good. Still, the approval of people around us has its lure.
In the August issue of Alliance Life, the magazine of the Christian Missionary Allegiance, Dr. Rob Reimer writes about it in an article called, “Transformed by His presence.” Here's what had happened. He had given a talk, seemingly not of earth-shaking importance. Thinking back of it he begins to feel that it had not gone well. No, it hadn't gone well at all. People hadn't said anything…of course not; it was less than a mediocre speech. And nothing could be done about it.
Receiving praise, what a sweet experience... But the opposite... hard to take …
Ministers are particularly sensitive to public approval. Sunday upon Sunday they stand before an audience, a critical audience. How the audience “likes” the sermon is important to the minister. In fact, how they like the minister as a person is an even bigger reality. And so it was that when Pastor Rob Reimer had given a speech, he felt upset that it had not gone well. It probably wasn't just that one speech...
There were some years in my ministry that I had to preach twice every Sunday morning. In both services the same sermon. It often crossed my mind, after the first rendition: I have the opportunity to a little better later this morning.
But Pastor Reimer did what more believers should do: he consulted the Word. This time the shepherd came to the Shepherd with his needs. He read from 2 Cor. 3. There in the last verse these words: “… we are being transformed into Christ's likeness!” To be found in the likeness of Christ... a new identity! No longer that feeling of inferiority, no longer feeling threatened, actually a new self-assessment (in that same passage): “... and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
So that's who you are: new in Christ. We function in a lot of capacities. And we will do our best: be good stewards, good preachers, good Christians, good believers, good mothers, good fathers, good friends, good class-mates, good workers. But for our security and our self-esteem we go to that deeper identity: being the Lord's own. “Transformed by His Presence”, said Pastor Reimer.