Growing up I remember being asked the question: “Who is your hero”, and we would be
asked to draw a picture. Two strange things came from that: my immaculate fridge art
did a disappearing act, and I don’t know where it went. I’m sure it’s somewhere special,
and the second strange thing is that I didn’t truly have one. I think for the sake of fitting
in I put my uncle down as a candidate. To this day I couldn’t tell you why I chose my
uncle, but I could tell you that I hadn’t spent any time building the persona of a hero
that I wanted to become.
Maybe it’s not that strange, but until I was older I hadn’t really looked up to anyone.
What changed was that I became aware of my calling in life. I became aware that I was
called to pastoral ministry and started looking for preachers to emulate. I wanted to
become like them. I wanted to preach as boldly as they did, reach as many people as
they did, heck; I basically wanted to live absorbing their shadow.
With this “Fascination” or “hero” mentality, there came with it a sense of dysfunction
when one of them would have a moral failure or pass away. I had to come to grips with
what it would mean to be successful, to have the title of “good and faithful servant” as
commended by Jesus in the gospels. And I think we have a picture of this in the story of
Samuel. There’s a couple “sneaky” lines in the story that have some rather significant
“Indeed the Lord visited Hanna, and she conceived and bore three sons and two
daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:21)
“And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and he let none of his words fall to the
ground” (1 Samuel 3:19)
During the time of Samuel, there was this “superstar” (I suppose). A family that was
chosen by God to minister in His presence, and bring judgment to the people of Israel.
And his faithfulness to the Lord was a contributing factor to Samuel even being born!
What we see during the turmoil of Eli’s family is Samuel remaining in the background,
being faithful to the Lord and growing in relationship with Him.
What struck me, was that Samuel certainly looked up to Eli (if his submission to Eli
asking if he was calling him is any indication), served him, and maybe even ignored
some of the faults I’m sure. But the whole time his mentor/teacher was making more
than a few blunders, he chose to grow in the Lord.
Samuel had background faithfulness
I think there is something here for all of us aspiring ministers, heck all of us to learn
Focus on our nearness to the Father. The only way we can guarantee success (and
sometimes not success by our standard) is to ensure that we grow in our relationship
with God. To grow in our knowledge of Jesus. The only “hero” we should have in our
lives is Jesus. Why? Because he is literally perfect.
Although the principle could definitely stop there, I think there is something else we can
apply through this “background faithfulness” idea: pining after a “position” is far from
the intent of God in our lives. Certainly the calling of Samuel was to a position, but
again; if Eli and his sons were faithful, there’s a chance that Samuel would have
remained in the background seeking the Lord.
A good question for all of us to ask would be this:
If we were to never get a position of influence, would we follow God into
that calling? If we are called to be a “right hand man/woman” would we be
content with background faithfulness?