Think about your social media accounts, and the last thing you posted. After you chose the perfect caption, or the perfect photo edits, you posted it and waited. Within minutes–if not seconds, the “likes” and comments begin to pour in and you get a little boost of satisfaction with every little activity on your post. This is what we often live for, the rush of feeling like we accomplished something, that we successfully showed the world who we are and what we think and we’re met with rousing applause and approval.
This is what we desire. Oftentimes, we post the wrong thing at the wrong “time” when no one’s looking and we don’t get the response we wanted. We look at our post with 12 “likes” and regret ever posting it, so we remove it. This is the reality of culture today. We live to please the masses by saying and doing the right thing, and cultivate our image to be something we’re not.
In Matthew 6, Jesus is speaking to the crowds and His disciples, continuing his “Sermon On The Mount.” Today I want to talk specifically about living from the secret place that Jesus talks about when He’s speaking of giving to the needy and praying in public. For us Worship leaders or church leaders in larger churches, it’s easy to get caught up in the image of likes, comments, streams, and shares. Maybe if the picture has the right angle? Maybe if I wore cooler clothes? Maybe if I lifted my hands a little more? Maybe if…
We can get caught up in seeking the applause of man, but Jesus tells us that “reward” is shallow and meaningless. In verse 2 and 5 of Matthew 6, Jesus says “Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” Jesus is primarily calling out the Pharisees and hypocrites who say they are doing things for the Kingdom, but are measuring it by the applause of man.
You know what? Sometimes the applause of man is great. It feels good. But sometimes it’s just noise. If we seek the approval and applause of people, it’s not hard to get it. We can find the right things to say, and the right things to do when there are cameras around or post the “right” thing. But it says in Matthew 6 that God rewards the things that are done in secret. When we pray, give, and fast, are we doing it so that others can see it? Are we actually doing it so that man can see it and be inspired to applaud and give us a pat on the back?
I’m not advocating that we ditch social media and not care about measuring analytically to have a reach with our accounts or reading a room as a church leader. Social media is awesome. I bring up social media because it has become a conditioning device that we’ve learned to use as the primary means to measure success. While social media can be an effective way to measure reach, it can be a deceiving way to measure impact.
I’ll ask as I’ve asked before in past blogs, what are we trying to prove, and who are we trying to prove it to? If the answer is that we really just want to hear that sweet, unsynchronized, percussive clapping sound with some hollers and feel that sense of success, then maybe we’ve got it wrong? I know that as a Worship leader and Pastor, I do selfishly enjoy hearing that. But sometimes I can get so caught up with measuring what God is doing in a room by that sound, that I miss out on hearing the sound of His voice as He delights in my worship. If I live only for the approval of man, I’ll receive it in full. It’s already done. But what good is that? The only way to know if you’re hearing from his voice is when you’re living from the secret place. Do you pray with the same fervor in secret as you do on a stage? Do you sing with as much passion on stage as you do in secret? If what you do in secret doesn’t match up with your public persona, there may be a problem that needs to be addressed.
If you live for success as man defines it, you’ve done it. If you live from the desire to please God, to pray to him when you’re alone, to give without a rousing speech that you gave so much money and time, and to worship with the same intent to hear His voice and to please Him, He will reward that. God will honor your faithfulness and commitment to live from secret places when you have the intent to please Him and Him alone. Living from the secret place and letting that overflow into your public life will show more impact not just on your spiritual life, but on people as they see the way that you live your life and how it reflects Jesus. Live from the secret place and spend time there, and God will reward you as you honor Him through being faithful.
— Stephen Severin