Steven Furtick - Why You Put Yourself Down
There are two tendencies we all have. Let me go in teacher mode for a moment. We either have a tendency to dramatize (I don't think you should look at your husband or wife right now; I think you should look straight ahead. I'm just giving you a marriage seminar) or to downplay. Both are dangerous. To dramatize… "Oh, this is the worst ever. It's never been like this before. Nobody ever said anything nice to me". Yes, 17 people did, just not the one you wanted to say it the way you wanted them to say it. That's dramatize. Overgeneralize. "They always… They never…" Dramatize, dramatize.
That's to make it bigger than it really is, and that's a problem. Trust me. From firsthand experience, I know. I'm not talking about what I studied in a textbook; I'm talking about what I lived out in my own psychosis of sanctification. To go, "That really wasn't that big. What was wrong with me"? You watch old film of yourself in your mind, and you're like, "God, that's embarrassing. Please, let's delete that off the hard drive of history". I'll tell you what else is just as bad as dramatizing, though: downplaying stuff, to go like, "Oh, it doesn't bother me". I was encouraged that God allowed Samuel to go through a grieving process of his disappointment. He wasn't saying, "You're not allowed to mourn".
The eleventh commandment is not "Thou shalt not be disappointed". But if the disappointment becomes a dead end, that's a problem. What I'm having to learn to do in my adult life right now… How many grown-ups do we have watching the message? Or grown-ups in the making, in metamorphosis. How many potential, future, hopeful grown-ups do we have? In my adult life, I'm having to learn how not to dramatize it while at the same time not to downplay it. "How long will you mourn over what I have rejected"?
There comes a time where you have to put it in its place and move on, but there also comes a time where you have to say, "That sucked". That sucked when they lied to me. That sucked when they said they had my back and they actually did have my back, but they had a knife they used in my back. That sucked. I gave so much and received so little. That sucked. The funny thing is some people can't even hear the message I'm saying right now because I said the word sucked. Something so small is that word, and the holes in my jeans will keep somebody from hearing the message I'm trying to preach.
We have this tendency to make big what God calls small and to make small what God calls big. The trick of it is don't ever diminish anybody else's pain…ever. Don't ever try to tell them things like, "Eh, psh". I mean, you can give them a little tough love, like, "Come on. Let's go. Let's do it. Come on, it'll be all right". You can do that, but don't ever look at somebody like, "That's all you're going through"? I used to get frustrated when people would… I call them toppers. I don't know what you call them. Like, you have a good story; they have a good story. You won a trophy; they won a Grammy. There's nothing you can do. You have a house; they have a neighborhood. You went to the beach; they went to Mars. They bought an island.
Not only do we try to top each other with accomplishments, but it can be like, "Oh, you went through that? I went through this". We do it mentally. We kind of make what other people go through small. Something we don't realize is we are only seeing it… Remember, what you think is small is relative to what you've seen. That's also true when it comes to people's pain. Sometimes you're only seeing it on the surface, and you're like, "Why is that so hard for them"? There is a history to why that's so hard for them. Something knocks them off balance, and you're like, "Well, I went through that, and I didn't act like that at all. That's a small thing". No, that's what you call small. You have your own little petty problems too. We all do.
In the passage, Samuel has this moment that, for us, is so… You're just going to pour some oil on somebody's head? No, it's much bigger than that to him. This is a big moment for him. Even what we've been going through the last year since our lives changed so much… I think there's this tendency to be like, "Oh, it's not that big of a deal". It is. It's weird. I'm kind of worried about what it will do to us as a society that we're not touching each other. That's not a small thing. Do you understand that? Sometimes we downplay it. Sometimes when I'm excited about something that's in my life, I will downplay it. There's a reason I do it. If I make it seem small, I feel safe.
The other day, I was telling somebody about a song I wrote. I was showing it to them, but I was scared they wouldn't like it as much as I did, so as I'm playing it, I'm like, "It's not really that good of a song. Just a little song. I'm not saying it's a big song or anything like that". What was I doing? I was making it small while I showed it to them so I could beat them to the punch of putting it down. If I call it small, you don't get the chance to. Sometimes we go around just saying stuff about ourselves, just putting ourselves down. The problem with that is Christ is in you. When you put down what he made, you insult the manufacturer, and you don't get to do that.
See, there's a danger in downplaying it too. "Oh, this song…" Elijah said to me afterward, "I thought we liked that song. Were we talking about the same song? Are we listening to the same song"? I said, "You caught me". I admitted to him. I confessed to him. I said, "Forgive me, father, I have sinned". I do that sometimes. I'll make it small because it makes me feel safe, because somehow, I believe that for God to be big I have to be small. God is not like Saul. God is not insecure. In fact, this is worth putting on your refrigerator: God doesn't need you to be smaller for him to be big. God is not going to get any bigger because you shrink yourself down smaller.
"Oh, I'm just a worm. I'm just a sinner". That's already established. All of that is already a fact. We already know you came out of Bethlehem. We already know you're limited. We already know you're human. The thing about when you bring yourself down to that level… It doesn't acknowledge your humanity; it diminishes the divinity God has put inside of you. We think God is like our insecure friends from middle school who had to bring us down for them to climb up. God is not like that. Religion is like that. Religion treats God like the worst boss you've ever had. The only way they can feel big is to belittle you.
So then we bring that same mentality into our relationship with God. We think that for God to be great and glorious we have to be screwed up and horrible. "O God, I'm so sorry. Everything about me is wrong". That's how Saul was. That's not how God is. Saul was so insecure… Remember, he didn't think he was a king in his own eyes, so when David came out to fight Goliath, Saul said, "You can't fight him. You're too small".
Can I ask you something? Was Saul talking about David or was Saul talking about Saul? That's the same thing David's big, tall brother Eliab said. He was still salty that Samuel didn't anoint him. Remember? Samuel is walking around. He's like, "Oh, the tall one". The tall one reminded him of the Saul one. We gravitate toward what's familiar, even if it's not right. "Oh, this must be how it is". The Lord said, "I don't look at what you look at. I don't see what you see. I don't measure like you measure. I don't take stock like you take stock. I don't count like you count". "What you call small I call sacred".
Aren't you glad that what you call small…? Your little life, running around, barely getting the to-do list done on a good day, and I mean barely. I didn't even say you got it done well. I just said you kind of got through it enough to call it a day. All of that adds up. Davide was asking about a RHYTHM album the other day. I sent him a screenshot of every single that RHYTHM has released. I said, "You already made the album. You just didn't know it while you were doing it. You've released 11 songs. That's an album. But to you it was small".
You're already building a legacy in your kids. If your kids are not yet at the stage or age where they're telling you "Thank you," that doesn't matter. The kids started reminiscing the other day about things we did for them. They remembered stuff I didn't remember. They remembered stuff that while I was doing it, I was like, "You ungrateful angels". "Remember when you took us out of school and took us to the thing"? I'm like, "You know, I don't remember that. It was a blur to me".
What I thought was small… They were getting it. The words we speak, the good ones, the bad ones… Sometimes you just say something to somebody, and you think nothing of it. You tell them, "Oh, that looks good on you". It changed their whole day. Even if you have to lie to somebody once in a while, just take five seconds. "That looks great on you". It's like a Rahab lie. You know what I'm saying? The Lord will forgive you for it. It's a greater good kind of issue. But even the little things.
I was talking to a friend the other day. I said, "Remember when you told me [blah, blah, blah]"? He goes, "Nuh-uh". I said, "Really? It was a turning point for my life". He said, "Yeah, that's cool. I don't remember it. I'm glad about it". I figure he must be in such the habit of just doing the small thing and letting God count, and letting God do the math… God doesn't look at what you look at. You look for immediate results. God looks for eternal impact. God doesn't look at what people look at. God doesn't see the situation. He doesn't see the challenge.
I think the reason David could kill Goliath was because he saw him with fresh eyes. Everybody else had been out there for 40 days. The longer they looked at the challenge, the smaller they felt, the smaller God seemed. The longer you think about it, whatever it is… The bigger it gets, the smaller God gets in your mind. On the other hand, when you worship, like you are right now… This is not a small thing that you're spending an hour listening to the Word of God. This Word is seed. This seed of this Word implanted is able to save your soul. It can be grafted into your grief and give you joy. It can challenge and redirect. One word. James compared it to the rudder of a ship. The rudder is small. The ship is big.
The little thing affects the big thing. A horse can weigh 2,000 pounds. The human tongue weighs less than a quarter of a pound. James makes the argument in James 3 that the tongue is to the life what the rudder is to the ship. The tongue is to your life what the bit is to the horse. What you call small… Stuff you say in anger people live with for a decade. What you call small… You have to watch what you speak in moments of frustration. My mom taught me, "Don't ever tell me when you and Holly get in a fight". She told me this before I married her. She said, "Y'all will get over it by Tuesday, and I'll still be hating her about it on my deathbed, because you're my baby. I don't want to know".
I thought, "That's great advice". It'll be a little thing to y'all. It's small to y'all, but it's big to me. That's why I used to get hurt when I preached. I'd go up to somebody and be like, "Did you like the sermon"? They'd be like, "Yeah, yeah". "What did you get out of it"? "Uh…that part where you said the thing about God was, you know, doing stuff? I liked that". God was doing stuff? I studied so hard. That's what you got out of it? It was small to you. It was a sacrifice for me.
And vice versa. There are volunteers in the church, and you start feeling like, "Nobody ever even cares I do anything. No, that's fine. I'll mop. I'll get my mansion in heaven". But deep down inside you're wondering, "Does anybody care that I'm here? Does anybody see that I'm here"? Oh, I know it seems small. I know it seems unappreciated. I know it seems like people just trample over top of you to something they think is more important. Good thing that what man calls small God calls big.
"We need to feed this big crowd, Jesus, and they need to go away. The crowd is big". "Okay. What do you have with you"? John 6:9. Get ready to shout over the small stuff in your life. Get ready to shout over the small assignments. Don't shout yet. Just get ready to shout. "Here is a boy with five small…" What kind of barley loaves? Big fat barley loaves? "…five small barley loaves and two small fish…" Of all the ink God needed to use to write the Bible, he wanted to make sure you knew it was small stuff he blessed and multiplied.