I Must Decrease

Jesus, Others, You -- a wonderful way to spell JOY

“I’ve been there and done that,” I think to myself. “I’ve done what he’s doing and been what he is.”

“I’ve been there and done that,” I think to myself.

But times change and needs change. As does standing. As do positions, assignments, and responsibilities. And when the time comes for me to give up long-held things like that, I want to remember again what John the Baptist said: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

I remembered it when I resigned as principal of “my” school.

I remembered it when I encouraged another friend to assume a calling that would diminish “my” role.

I hope I remember it when I’m replaced as chairman of the board I’ve “headed” for over 19 years.

The Scriptures say in Philippians 2:8 -- He humbled himself, and became obedient
“He humbled himself” (Philippians 2:8)
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

I purpose to maintain that perspective. But I want it to be more than a mere statement of realism — “it’s just the way life goes,” you know.

And I want it to be much more than acceptance of the inevitable.

I want it to be the submissive recognition of the wise will of my sovereign God, the One who knows all things and does all things well.

I want it to be the humble commitment to the success of another.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

As I ponder this matter, I realize a range of things can make this increase-decrease business difficult.

  • when others wish (to the decreaser) that it weren’t so
  • when others clearly and openly are glad it is so
  • when the increaser
    • goes proud and all lordy
    • forgets, ignores, or holds in low regard the decreaser
    • flaunts his increase and rubs it in the decreaser’s face
  • losing sight of God’s love, sovereignty, foreknowledge, and wisdom
  • indulging pride and self-pity
  • feeling injustice
  • wrestling with nostalgia
  • imagining entitlement (how odd, since someone else most likely had to decrease so I could increase!)
  • having a shepherd’s heart or even just all the personal investment at every level
  • claiming ownership — overlooking that it’s not “my” school or “my” church or “my” board; it’s God’s

May I remember such things when I’m the increaser!

When I decrease so another increases (or even when I decrease because another increases), I want to do so in a God-inclined way: “not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

I want to be a ready decreaser because I’m interested in and focused on “first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). I want to be driven by the best interests of His kingdom, even when it means crucifying my own best interests.

I want to yield my role and help increase another in that role like my Dad did with his bishoprick: graciously and gracefully, meekly and humbly, unselfishly and supportively; without whining, moaning, complaining. I praise God for such a real-life model of

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

So be it. Even though it’s hard.

I can do this only by having the mind of Christ with its part-and-parcel meekness, humility, love, and servant heart.

PS: Here’s my translation of my theme sentence from the Spanish Bible (Reina-Valera 1960):

Disclaimer: This post has been in the cranial hopper for months. It’s in no way related to or triggered by our daughter‘s weekend wedding…so it has nothing to do with our new son-in-law. But who’s to say, come to think of it, that it couldn’t pertain? 😯

Comment? Sure!

Above all, love God!
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