Enjoy being unknown at Christmas

In his classic "The Imitation of Christ," Thomas a Kempis says, ‘Enjoy being unknown and regardedBell_ringers  as nothing.’  Regarded as nothing?  For a guy for whom being liked is a high value that ain’t easy.

For me to survive without the oxygen of recognition is hard.  I like to be stroked and praised.  It’s one of the reasons I have my own little blog.  You thought my motives were pure? 

We start our lives as the center of the universe — little babies whose cry says:  "It’s all about me.  Feed me. Change me.  Hold me."  As we grow older and engage with the world around us, some never recover from being unknown and hardly noticed.

For all but his last three years, Jesus was happy to live a hidden life.  "There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him."  Isaiah 53:2 

Most of the good in the world is accomplished by parents, workers, volunteers, caregivers who keep going through the daily offering of their unregarded service.

You want try and dip your toe in the water of unregarded service today?  Go find one of those ubiquitous red kettles being guarded by a dishelved bell ringer.  As discreetly as possible, drop a $20 bill into the kettle and commit to not telling a soul … ever. 

3 thoughts on “Enjoy being unknown at Christmas

  1. So many tensions in life and here is another one. The key for me seems to be in accepting the tensions, holding them loosely and not spending my whole life trying to resolve them.


  2. I enjoy reading your blog whether your motives are pure or not! Thanks for this post. It reminds me of the tension between two of Jesus' sayings from the Sermon on the Mount.First from Matthew 6: “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others.”And it's reverse image in Matthew 5: “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”I have wondered which one Rick Warren was thinking of when he announced to the world that he reverse tithes, giving 90% of his millions away. Is he following Matthew 5, so that the world may see his good works and give glory to God? Or was he alluding to Matthew 6, practicing his piety before others in order to be seen by them?Of course, at some point, it might just be impossible to hide your good works. It's easy to hide a gold coin dropped in a red Salvation Army bucket. But can anyone give away millions without somebody finding out? The good news is that God can use us for good whether our motives are pure or not. God's motives are always pure. Cheers!


  3. Shoot, Don! I did think your motives were pure! Now I feel foiled.Being unknown is hard to do for me, as well. It's difficult not to let someone else know how much of a servant I can be or how humble I've been…but then, that very act contradicts my supposed humility.


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