I’ve been listening to an audiobook of Seth Godin’s This is Marketing. He talks about the importance of status as the reason why people do things and the difficulty of getting them to change if it means going against what gives them status. According to Seth, people acquire status by affiliation or domination, i.e., “I’m part of this group,” or “This is mine!” He tells a story about young men in a tribe who acquire status by killing lions as their rite of passage. This has led to a significant decrease in the number of lions in their area. And he says that trying to change them by trying to convince them that killing lions is wrong or bad won’t work. What works is getting them to change their perception of acquiring status. For example: Be a lion-saver, not a lion-killer!
I think there’s an insight here that relates to Christianity. Part of the motivation involved in the change in a person’s conduct when he becomes a Christian has to do with the way he perceives his status: he is now affiliated with Christ and he identifies with his fellow Christians. They read their Bibles, so does he. They pray and sing hymns, so does he. They go to church, so does he.
This isn’t peer pressure or herd mentality; this is biblical teaching, or if you like, biblical psychology. You see yourself in a new way, you then act in a new way, and it helps that you’re part of a group that sees and acts in this new way. “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” “You have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self…” “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…” (See Colossians chapter 3).
New identity, new self, new affiliation, new practices. New status!
There’s something about trying to be the best in the world (at least, in my world) that bothers me.
Seth Godin recommends focusing your efforts on what you can be the best in the world at; otherwise, if you can’t make it through the dip (read his book: The Dip), then quit. But there’s a price to pay. You have to say, “No” to a lot of things, because you can’t be the best in one thing without giving up other things.
But what if you enjoy doing a lot of different kinds of things? What if being the best in one thing (whatever it is) doesn’t make you happy? In my case, trying to choose one thing to be the best at in my world paralyses me. I can’t choose! I love them all! Theology, law, poetry, music, and what have you.
I think there’s a way through this impasse. What if you don’t have to be the best? What if it’s okay to be merely second best – good enough instead of great? Then you can do a lot of things that you enjoy. The important thing is people still get blessed by the things you do even if you’re not the best at them, as long as you’re good enough.
John the Baptist didn’t try to be the best. It was enough for him to be the best man (pun not intended) instead of being the groom. He said, “He must increase; I must decrease.” Ironically, even with that kind of attitude he still turned out to be the greatest of the prophets, according to Jesus himself.
So second best instead of being the best, anyone?
I watched a video of Seth Godin just a while ago. He said something about the benefits of blogging everyday and recommended that everyone should blog everyday. I thought I should try that. I took a look at his blog and I noticed it was very simple, his blog posts were quite short, and covered a lot of topics. A recent post was about exhaust fans!
So I’m going to try that. Post everyday even if no one else reads it. The important thing is to keep doing it.
My goal however is not to become popular. I just want to share what’s in me. And I think some of the things I have to share might be of benefit to someone out there.
As the Bible says, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee.”
So as I said, I’m going to try that. Blog everyday. Probably about the three things that matter most to me per title of this blog: theology, law, and everything else!