Sometimes I still get a few butterflies in my stomach when I hit the “publish” button at the end of writing a post. There’s something about spending time writing, editing and crafting something then putting it out into the world for others to see, interact with and, potentially, to reject. When you put a little piece of yourself out for others to examine, some will accept it while others will reject it- that’s just the reality.
Beyond writing, this idea of putting ourselves out for others to examine impacts areas of our lives ranging from a school presentation, to a sales pitch, to asking someone on a date, to sharing an opinion, idea or aspect of your faith. The phrase “to yourself out there” even implies the sense of the unknown and with the unknown comes fear.
A few months ago I read the book Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang. In the book, he makes a revealing statement, “I rejected my own ideas before they could be rejected by the world.” I think that’s were most of us land. We reject ourselves and our own ideas before we ever “put them out there” for others.
But why? We could come up with several reasons but I think one of the major reasons is because we believe that whatever we put out there isn’t important or worth anything for anyone else.
What if we did have something that was worth everything? Would that make us braver about putting ourselves out there? Studies don’t support that, at least when it comes to following Jesus. The Reveal study found that of those they classify as “Christ-Centered” (the highest level of spiritual maturity) almost 80% said that they “strongly agree that they love God more than anything.” But only 20% said that they invited six or more non-Christians to church in the last year and only 40% said that had six or more meaningful spiritual conversations with non-Christians in the last year. (Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth, 86-87).
Those numbers show the disconnect that exists within the lives of even the most spiritually mature followers of Jesus. If God were truly the most important thing, the thing that worth everything, wouldn’t that impact those around us? I think we would all agree that it should, but why doesn’t it?
Again, we could come up with many potential reasons but what it comes down to is two possibilities: 1. We don’t really love God more than anything 2. We love ourselves (our reputation, our comfort, our security, our status quo, our churches) more than we love people around us.
In the Gospel of Matthew, four times it says Jesus saw the people and was moved with compassion for them and twice Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6, “I desire compassion and not sacrifice.”
When I put myself out there because of compassion for you, because you matter, because I want what’s best for you then maybe I can be braver in what I say and how I live. I no longer have to have you validate the worth of what I put out. Yes, rejection can still happen and it can still hurt but at least it’s rejection for being brave and it’s a step beyond rejecting myself.
To put yourself out there requires bravery. To love God more than anything requires bravery. Compassion requires bravery. We need more bravery.
Where do you need to brave?