Today, I wanted to share with you a tremendous thought I have been dealing with, “Becoming Your Own Best Fan”.
In the fourth chapter of Philippians, Paul wrote about his early years of ministry when only one fan church financially supported him. Paul (who was named Saul at the tyme) said:
As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this (Philippians 4:15).
Can you imagine, a man who influenced the world as much as Apostle Paul, started out with an empty stadium? He most certainly did. In the Book of Acts, we see how a man named Barnabas stuck his neck out to vouch for Saul—before anybody else trusted him. (Saul was Paul’s name, prior to his God encounter.) Barnabas, whose name means son of encouragement, was Saul’s first fan!
Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall.
When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus (Acts 9:22-27).
Before the world loves you, it may loathe you for a decade or two. Before people understand you, they may misinterpret even your purest intentions. Some people may even devote the major portion of their lives to bringing you down, thinking they are doing a great service to God for shutting you up. Jesus spoke of this in John 16:2 when He said, “For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the tyme is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God.”
I speak from experience when I tell you that the more deeply you care about these people, the more it will hurt. Dealing with this degree of rejection will shatter your heart to tiny pieces, sending you to bed many nights feeling worthless and alone.
As soon as you start to advertise your vision, most everyone will think you have lost your mind. Even if they don’t say it out loud, they may think it. Familiarity breeds contempt. Prophets are usually without honor in their hometowns (see Luke 4:24). Even some of your closest pals will not be able to wait out your long season of small beginnings. This is not brought up as a condemning verdict over your family and friends; it is just a universal glitch of humanity.
No matter how hard we try, most people have to see tangible success before they can cheer. Think about this on a personal level. I bet you didn’t select your favorite sports team during a ten-year slump. No, you purchased your season tickets during the build-up of a huge winning streak. Sometymes, one good year is all it takes to get us in the stands and keep us there for life; sometymes it’s not. Little by little, enduring teams inevitably recruit and retain more fans than they turn away and their stadiums get fuller and louder until there is not a single empty seat.
Anyone can succeed when all they have to do is show up and ride to glory on the dynamism of a sold-out stadium. Since it does take tyme to recruit frenzied fans, you will need to master the art of becoming your own best fan. This is where legends seem to have an edge over others. They can feel positively about what they are doing long before anyone else appreciates it. Legends look far beyond their early days of unpopularity to the tyme when they have blessed the earth and people have benefited from their generous bequest.
I titled this blog, “Everyone Starts Alone,” because it’s true. If you’re in the early phases of your development, or even well advanced in years and experience… and you cannot figure out why it’s taking so long to get the wrong people off the bus, the right people on the bus, and the right people on the bus in the right seats… just know that if you really want to make a lasting difference in the world, then you will walk alone sometymes… usually longer than you want to.
In those moments, draw near to God. He is near to the lonely and brokenhearted. He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you. He is near.
I just finished praying for you this morning.
With much love,