As a young child in school, I enjoyed popularity. Perhaps subconsciously in my young mind, I thought that it was the antidote to feelings of rejection. Then, in 3rd grade, I was transferred to a different school due to our move to the province. Being a newbie, I lost that popularity and sought to regain it. Even when I was in high school and college, it may have been my initial primary motivation for excelling in extra-curricular activities. Like Glinda in Wicked, I reveled and soaked in popularity.
The desire for popularity turned into a secret, hidden desire for personal fame and glory, an extrinsic motivation for my career choices. I realized that I wanted to do something grand, even dabble in policy or be a leader of the country or an organization, because part of me wanted to be lauded. And until I was in such position, I sought for that elusive semblance of fame. I fluttered from being a sales manager to law student to external counsel to in-house tax manager…I was consistently focused on the next season, in a hurry, distracted with a secret on-the-side pursuit of my own personal glory.
I also made some unwise financial decisions, perhaps linked to wanting to be regarded well. Splurging on food, clothing, recreation and housing, I even blamed my husband for choices that I contributed to.
In recent years, the penchant for fame also made me crave for likes and shares in social media. Until my big thud last year, experiencing rejection both from personal and professional fronts.
Deep within though, the craving for popularity stemmed from a desire for acceptance and love. It was a symptom of lack of knowledge of my identity in Christ and grounding in His love. Aside from being a symptom of rejection (whether real or perceived), it also revealed the need for intrinsic motivation. I realized that there was such a disconnect between my professed and true motivations.
The perfect storm that God allowed in my life helped me realize what was truly important, and the only thing that can never be taken away from me. At the brink of failure, obscurity and infamy, even notoriety of being a jobless job-hopper, I realized that no amount of popularity ever really mattered. God purged my heart to align it with my profession of motivation. God knew that there were cracks in the foundation of my motivation, and that those cracks needed to be emptied, before they can be filled anew. The holes needed to be plugged in with the right filling before something can be further built.
As my limitations and incapacity stared at me in the face, the truth became clear to me: without Christ, I am really nothing. Hence, popularity does not matter. Only Jesus does. And the agenda should not include my fame or glory, but only His.
Having learned that lesson, I found that this video resonated with my heart:
Quoting Cameron Diaz,
Fame does not define us. If you are looking for fame to be happy, you can never be happy. You will always be searching for happiness, and you will never find it in fame. It goes back to authenticity and intention: why do you want to do anything you do? Fulfillment comes from within you, from being authentic to yourself; not chasing fame.
Fulfillment does come from within me…from my real identity: that Jesus is in me and that I am a daughter of God. As His daughter, I am accepted and beloved in Jesus. I do not need to perform. The best place is hiddenness under the shadow of God’s wings. The best view is seen while locking eyes with Jesus, where I’m able to gaze at the glory emanating from His eyes that are aflame with love for me. Fulfillment comes from being able to fulfill my highest calling: to bow and kneel before His throne…to do as He is doing. Fulfillment comes from this:
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. – Psalms 16:11 NLT
Fulfillment is intrinsic…and finally, it penetrated my heart from my head.
Besides, the goal should never be popularity or human approval. It simply runs counter to being a bondservant of Jesus.
Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ. – Galatians 1:10-12 MSG