When I was 14, I got my first job umpiring youth baseball games. I was pretty young to be given that responsibility, but I took it very seriously.
I purchased the equipment I would need, as well as a copy of the rulebook. I studied it with care so as to be able to do the job.
I will never forget the "pep talk" that my dad gave me the night of my first game. I was confident that I would do well but fearful of making a mistake at the same time.
As we were getting out of the car he said to me, "Son, one thing. Keep this in mind: Nobody is coming tonight to watch you umpire."
Wow! I had played the game since I was 6, and there were people who came to watch me play. But this was different. And he was right. Parents, grandparents, siblings and friends came to watch players, not umpires.
Later he would remind you, "It’s in your best interest to be invisible. If they are talking about you after the game, it’s never a good thing."
Again, he was right. People don’t talk about all of the good calls made by a referee or umpire. The only time they are mentioned is when they mess up.
As a preacher, I often asked the Lord to hide me behind the cross as I preach. I want people to see Jesus, not me, as I speak or write. I often tell stories (like the preceding one) to help illustrate a point. But the goal is always the same: Elevate Jesus.
John wrote of the Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease." The Lord himself said, "If I be lifted up from the earth I will draw all men to myself." That was clearly a reference to the cross, but it remains the same today. As Christians, we are to lift up the name and the glory of Jesus.
Here’s the deal: You can’t be entirely invisible. But if you are distracting others from Jesus, then you are not doing what you have been called and gifted to do.
We need believers who are willing to stay in the background as we point others to the Lord. He is the only one who can save. Let’s be careful to put him first in all we say and do.