Today: Sunday, December 08, 2019

Giving it up for Lent #2 - name-dropping!    (2/21/2010 )

“I used to be a terrible name-dropper… that is, until the queen told me to stop!”

Well, the temptation is so strong. If you’ve ever met a famous person, or even just a half-famous person, the temptation to casually drop into conversation something like, “As I was saying to David Beckham/the archbishop/Delia Smith the other day...” can be quite overpowering.

You see, I’d like you to think that I’m special… but I can’t quite manage it on my own. So I call in the names of some impressive people who might help to make me look good by letting me bask in their reflected glory 

But what I’m doing now is hinting that I could drop lots of names in, if I wanted to; that I’m on first-name terms with lots of great people, which is why I’m having to think about giving up this dubious (but enjoyable) habit.  So I probably shouldn’t have started this conversation in the first place! If I were really serious, I wouldn’t even be hinting at any of this (as if it were true…).

So, pretend you didn’t hear any of that, and just ponder how your own mind works.

Do you ever crave the reflected glory of celebrity? Do you relish the moments when, however briefly, you rubbed shoulders with the stars? Do you ever use such highlights to impress your friends or family? Have you ever shaken hands with a hero and not washed that hand for days afterwards so that you could go on saying, “This is the hand...”?

We are a bit stupidly human at times, trying to bolster our image by riding on someone else’s fame.

Then one day you meet someone who really is great, but who makes absolutely no fuss about it. Who could drop armfuls of names, if they wanted, but behaves like a totally ordinary person. And you realise that they’re beyond name-dropping—they’re at peace with themselves.

That’s something to aim for: to be content with who you are, and not to need to bolster your ego with subtle showing off.

Lent is a time when Christians think about the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus, and try to learn from his life and example. In one sense, there was no bigger name-dropper than Jesus. After all, he talked about being one with the Father—with God himself! There aren’t any bigger names to drop. But in his case, it was true: he was telling us who he really is.

And in any case, his overriding character was that of humility. He who was himself the greatest became the least. To be born in a stable to an ordinary family, to have no public office, to write no songs and no books, to be executed in a shameful death—these are the things of humility and ordinariness.

To some of his followers, who wanted a guaranteed top slot in Jesus’ plans, he said -”If you want to be great, serve; if you want to be first, become a slave. That’s why I came—to serve and give my life for the sake of many.” (See Matthew [NT] chapter 20, verses 27 and 28).

Name-dropping really is out of line with that.  I’ve still got a lot to learn this Lent.

Pray: Whoever and whatever other people are, Lord Jesus, help me to be more concerned with who you are and what you think of me. Help me to receive your love, your forgiveness and your life, and to find my real self and my true destiny in you. Amen.

Think about: These are some words to live by: “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you should, but be modest in your thinking...” (see Romans [NT], chapter 12, verse 3).  That probably means don’t belittle yourself, or grovel as if you were nobody, but don’t try to over-inflate yourself or boast about your achievements or position, either.

Challenge: Over the coming week, remember that God loves everyone just the same amount - whether their names are worth dropping or not. So try to see where the treasure is in each person; the treasure that God values so highly, whether or not they have a famous name or can do anything for you. And remember, God loves name-dropping, too... YOURS!

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