During my high school psychology class, we took a test to determine if we were introverts or extroverts. We divided up into pairs to have someone else give us the questions and calculate our scores. This test, on a scale of one (extreme introvert) to five (extreme extrovert) was to help us better understand ourselves.
As I finished the test, my friend Chris turned to the teacher and said, “Suppose someone scored a zero on it. What would that mean?” The teacher responded: “Well, that’s impossible, it’s on a scale of one to five.”
“Yeah. Granted. But hypothetically speaking, what would that mean?”
“Well….I guess that means they’d be a blob.”
“Here are Justin’s scores. He got a zero.”
“That’s not right….Oh…huh….Congratulations on breaking the test….and sorry about that blob comment…..”
I’ve got countless other stories to share that are similar to this. Extreme shyness has been something that I’ve had to work through and come out of.
Several years ago, I also stumbled upon an online group from my high school class. When I found it, the latest celebration was how “we’ve finally got our whole class in here!”
Except….I wasn’t in the group. I was never even invited.
Then, I find out from a friend a few months ago that my ten year high school reunion just happened.
Huh. No one ever told me. I found out from someone that wasn’t even in my class.
And I suppose that there was (and maybe still is) a part of me bothered by all of this. Why couldn’t I speak? It was like my mouth sometimes refused to work. I wanted to say something, I just couldn’t.
But on a more social level: why was I so easily forgettable? How can an entire group of people so easily block out the entire existence of another person? It’s not that I was un-liked, I was just forgettable, perhaps something even worse.
As I’ve grown and matured, I’ve also outgrown some of that shyness. It no longer pains me to speak in public (good thing since that’s what I get paid to do). Sure, I’m still an introvert; I’ll take a good book over a large party any day, but I’ve also come to love community time.
And as I’ve grown in Christ, I’ve also grown to appreciate the ‘forgettable’ nature of my own personality. I see it exemplified in John the Baptist where he says,
” He must become greater; I must become less.”
John didn’t want to be remembered. If he had been, it meant that he had been trying to steal some of Jesus’ light, some of his mission and focus. John was perfectly content to fade into the background His desire was to make sure that Christ was exemplified, honored, and focused on in all things.
And I can’t hope for anything different in my own ministry. If people come away captivated at how good looking I am (not going to happen) or how awesome of a speaker I am (slight chance of it happening) or how well dressed I am (that would be my wife’s handiwork), then I think I’ve gotten them to focus on the wrong thing. If people don’t walk away from an encounter with me marveling at the goodness of Jesus, I have distracted them from my one mission in life.
If I disciple people and their loftiest goal is to be more like me, instead of more like Jesus, I set myself up as a god.
My one goal in life is to be forgettable. Not as in my awkward high school days, but in a way that points everyone towards the beauty and grace of Jesus.
My identity comes not from anything earthly, but from my relationship with my Creator and Savior. This proper understanding of identity, one shaped by Christ, empowers me to live on mission with him, bring hope and light to those around me.