There are certain people that I look up to a lot. Not more than a year ago, I would feel good on some days because I was connected to influential people. Even if I wasn’t the most influential person around, I knew them, and since I knew them, I felt like I was more influential than I was. Or maybe I felt a sense of importance from it. Or maybe a sense that because I knew certain people of influence, I had an edge on others. (I know, this is kind of gross, huh? Hey, before you start judging, I’m just opening the maze of my former self, and I’m allowing you to walk around and see if you find anything of value in it.)
The people of “influence or importance” sometimes got more of my focus, energy, and attention than another person. They received more of my love. I really liked knowing them, and today, I can say that I still do. It’s just that now, I like them for different reasons. I like them for who I know them to be instead of the great things they do. I am still blown away by their influence, but I’ve stopped looking at them through the lens of their influence. Why did I do that? A series of events and conversations showed me that what was in my heart was not love.
My view and treatment of them was fueled by insecurities.
Paul writes about this to some people in the city of Corinth sharing these words with them.
“So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ and Christ is of God.” 1 Corinthians 3:21-23
The people in Corinth were talking about their connection to each of these influential men of God. Paul wants them to stop with the way they are talking, and it is probably because Paul knows a dirty little secret. Paul isn’t that special. The only reason Paul is doing the work he is doing is because God raised him up for it. If God didn’t, Paul wouldn’t, and no one could talk about Paul. How can Paul boast about the calling he received from God. He did nothing to acquire it. God gave it to him. Beyond that, Paul might have just thought, “If you really know me, you may be truly unimpressed by me, so don’t boast about knowing me. For more info, click here to see another one of my letters.”
The other problem with holding on to human leaders via boasting, is that you will be enamored with their influence, focus, and spirituality instead of seeing what belongs to you in Christ. Two times, in the first passage, Paul says,
“All things are yours.”
What does he mean by that? Paul means all things as in these things: the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours, and you are of Christ and Christ is of God.
When we see who we are in Christ, what we possess in Him, we are matured by Him, stretched by Him, and grown by Him because we understand all that we are is found in Him. I thank God for the people of influence in my life, and I ask God to continue to use them. But I love them now for who they are, not what they do. I don’t need to boast in knowing any of them, because I boast in God. And so you can live boldly, knowing that today,
all things are yours.