At the Table as the Least Important
*This post in a expert from my new book A Journey to the Cross.
Read Luke 14:1-14
When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled,
and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (v8, 11)
A few years ago, I was invited to a young pastors’ luncheon that was part of a big conference coming through our city. There were only about fifty pastors invited to the lunch. I’m not sure how I made the list, but I was excited to go. Part of the lunch was a series of presentations from nationally recognized ministry leaders and pastors from all over who were doing amazing and exciting things. After the presentations, they sat with us over lunch and took the time to hear our stories and get to know us.
One of the guys there was a representative from a well-known Christian publisher. When I learned he was in the room, I made every effort to sit next to him and try to get to know him. I had an ulterior motive for connecting with him. As we talked, I told him about my writing and some of the things I was working on hoping to impress him and see if I could get a foot in the door with his publishing company. He listened and politely nodded, but after about thirty minutes of conversation, he invited another pastor to sit with us. It was clear that this publishing rep really wanted to talk to this other pastor and not me. A few minutes into their conversation, I could tell that he was done with me. He asked this other pastor about the book that he was working on and wanted to see his manuscript. Deflated and disappointed, I went to clear my plate and moved on to another conversation.
As I drove home from the luncheon that afternoon, I was reminded of the parable Jesus told in Luke 14. From the moment I walked into the room, I had my eyes on certain people with whom I wanted to connect, the publishing rep being one of them. I thought that if I could impress them with either some great stories or lead them to believe I had some measure of expertise, I could find myself running in more influential ministry circles. My motivation was severely skewed. I desperately wanted to impress them with the hopes of being noticed. I went into the gathering seeking to exalt myself, but at the end of the day, I left humbled.
Jesus routinely warns against trying to be first or present ourselves better than we really are. We are never to assume we are the most important person in the room or the most honored guest at the table. The humbling reality is, we’re not.
Jesus challenges us to be comfortable with the least important seats at the table, knowing that in His Kingdom those seats actually yield a better reward.
1. Where and when have you recently been tempted to position yourself to be noticed by others?
2. What was the outcome of that encounter? Were you recognized? If so, were you satisfied? Did it last?
3. Where is God inviting you to take the lesser seat at the table?