From the Renovaré Newsletter Archive

The selection below is from a April 2001 Renovaré newsletter. Download a PDF of the original newsletter.

In the midst of our celebrity culture,” as we like to call it, I want to put in a word for the value of anonymity. Frankly, all this hankering to get noticed runs at cross-purposes with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Besides, it is all so mindless. Many people, for example, act as if it is some kind of honor to be on television. Unfortunately, today all we have to do is act outrageous, and bingo, the media are there. (And more and more now the key is to be violently outrageous.) Friends, this is no honor; it is a sadness and a disgrace.

My counsel is that we simply turn our back to all the brouhaha of our media-soaked society. It is nothing more than a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. It is cotton candy. Besides, most of us will never be important” or noticed” in terms of human reckoning. Even Andy Warhol’s dictum that each of us gets fifteen minutes of fame is beyond the reach of most of us. And it isn’t worth the reach anyway.

Now, being important” and valued” is central to our health and well-being. But it is an importance and a value that is worlds apart from the modern gushing over the ten most sexy men of 2001.” We can and we should give and receive the honest affirmation that comes within the warm context of family and friends. We can and we should rest contented in the experiential knowledge that we are of infinite value to our heavenly Father who loves us utterly. Together these are wholly sufficient.

We are therefore free to live our lives quietly and profoundly. We are at east in our hiddenness. We have no need for attention because we have learned to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value. In saying this I am not referring to the kind of humble mumble” that pretends not to want attention and all the time is desperately wishing that someone … anyone … will notice. No, here we are fully satisfied. Truly. And may I just add that this way of living is not just for individuals but for groups and churches as well. To be important from a kingdom perspective we do not have to be the biggest, the best, or the most innovative. We simply do our work faithfully with all our might and we leave the rest in the hands of God. (It’s a good place to be, you know.)

Now, at times God, for his own sovereign purposes, will raise up a person for leadership or to honor in some special way. And, if this happens to us, it is a grace to receive, it is a call to serve, it is a cross to bear. If given a position of leadership, we lead as only we follow … follow our Master who leads without guile. If given honor we accept it thankfully as those who have done nothing more than receive a gift of grace. In this way our anonymity is not really given up, only extended.

Peace and joy,

Richard J. Foster

Text First Published April 2001