Seek God first, and you will never be a nobody. Our society focuses on looking out for number one. How can I make my dreams come true? How can I excel and make a name for myself? I would like to say as a Christian I am immune to these longings, but the call of greatness beckons at the back of my mind. No one wants to be a nobody. We want to be known and respected by a wide audience. When we don’t have that, it feels like something is missing.
My favorite Christmas movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Every year I watch this movie to remind myself that even when my life doesn’t go as I planned, it can still have value and meaning. George Bailey never left Bedford Falls, but unknowingly, he enriched the lives of everyone who lived there. His reach extended even further because he saved his brother’s life, who in turn protected others in World War II. We may never know the ripple effect of our lives.
Though I love this movie, it frustrates my friend. She is galled that George never leaves Bedford Falls and none of his dreams come true. He doesn’t get to see the world, but is stuck working in the Savings and Loan. She thinks that he should have been able to go places, earn a good salary, and make a difference. His desires mattered. He shouldn’t have to miss out on his hopes. There must be a way to have personal happiness while also bringing good to the world.
While I understand her angst, this line of reasoning directly opposes what I see in the Bible. Our lives aren’t supposed to be about fulfilling our own dreams and having success as defined by the world. When we strive for these things, even when we get them, they don’t bring the joy and fulfillment we expect. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (NKJV). When we seek to build God’s kingdom instead of our own, we experience the abundant life and utter joy God desires to give us.
I am so thankful for the times God has forced me to surrender my demands in favor of His plans. Several years ago, I tried to get a job in my favorite town. I felt qualified for the position, and figured God would give me what I wanted. He didn’t. Instead I got a job in a city I’d never lived in and had no idea what to expect. However, that was a much better place for me to live in because it was closer to my sister who was doing missions work. We visited often and deepened our relationship. I also joined a local Bible study, where people encouraged me in my walk with Christ. God knew my needs better than I did.
Mark 8:35 says, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (NKJV). Praise God He convinced me to try something new because I would have missed out on so many good times. I let go of my demands to go where I wanted and gained sweet memories instead. My dreams pale in comparison to what God has planned for me.
Another area where I struggle is wanting to feel like I’m somebody who has left a positive mark on the world. I want recognition for my good work, and can get insecure if I feel like my efforts are unnoticed. However, John 3:30 says, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (NKJV). My goals are backwards if I try to make myself big instead of honoring God’s name. God must receive all the glory. Isaiah 42:8 says, “I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images” (NKJV). God rightfully deserves all the glory. When we live for our own renown, we will never get enough recognition and always be frustrated. It is ok to be a nobody for God if He so calls you to that. George Bailey may have felt like a nobody, but he made a huge impact on the world.
Sometimes, God allows us to be nobodies for a while to humble us and prepare us for what He has next. He has to ensure we can handle success before freeing us to fulfill our destinies. Think about how Joseph sat in prison for years having done nothing wrong. God had to strip him of the pride he had displayed with his brothers before raising him to second-in-command over Egypt. 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (NKJV). When we allow God to mold us in the shadows, He ushers us into the light to reflect His glory at the right time.
Focus on being who God has made you to be for His glorify instead of trying to promote yourself. God knows best how to use you for His greatest glory. Philippians 4:12 says, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (NKJV). When we learn to be content in all circumstances, no matter where God has us, He will get all the glory. God’s glory lasts for eternity. If you want to be somebody with eternal impact, seek God first. In the end, only His Name matters.
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.