Living Generously in a World Full of Wanting

Stock photo from Pexels

Stock photo from Pexels

People buzzed with excitement and quickly formed a long line to the tent up ahead. Pairs of eyes peered around the shoulders in front of them. I was amazed. From the level of anticipation, I would have thought I was on a college campus and someone was handing out free Olive Garden vouchers. In reality, I lingered at a small book signing event outside of a church.

When I think back on the experience, I'm still in awe of how excited the crowd was. It seemed strange to me—but then again, flocking to famous individuals never made sense to me, anyway.

What stood out to me was how everyone wanted something from this author. This was the motive behind the long lines, the bubbling excitement, the eager squirming. They waited for a signature, a picture, a conversation. They wanted to take away something they didn't have before.

It all seemed so superficial and selfish, and over the next few weeks, I began to recognize this desire to get something all around me.

In Waco, I regularly hear stories of over-enthusiastic fans (and downright stalkers) of Chip and Jo from the show Fixer Upper. People travel the world for a handshake, a photo, or boasting rights on social media.

Music enthusiasts purchase backstage passes to meet artists. Diehard sports fans arrive early for an autograph. Groupies compose lengthy fan mail and posts and hope for a reply, a mention on Instagram, or a retweet on Twitter. The lengths to which devotees go is often exorbitant (laughable, even!). 

We want something from our heroes, whether they're athletes or authors or politicians or the "popular" person in our social circles. We want signatures or fame or affirmation; but deeper than that, we want to be recognized. We want to be known by our heroes.

Slowly, I began to realize this striving to connect with people we respect and admire reflects something deeper. Sown into each of our beings is an innate need, a craving to be known by the ones we adore. Not known from afar but in a real, intimate way. Not known as a member of a crowd at a concert but as a unique individual backstage, where we're close enough to see and touch and converse.

Children crave to be known and loved by their parents, students by their teachers, all of us by our mentors and role models. Perhaps fanbases are simply a byproduct of this natural craving.

When I was surrounded by people at the book signing, I made a conscious decision not to approach the situation with an attitude of wanting something but with a readiness to give. The perspective shift was refreshing, and I wondered how to apply this change more broadly.

As I've observed this deeper desire fueling fanbases—the need to be known—the antidote for always wanting something became obvious.

There is One before whom we are fully known, who has more influence than we can imagine and can fill our heart's deepest craving. When we meet with him and rejoice in being known and loved by him, a perspective shift happens naturally. We no longer feel the need to be known by a well-known artist, by some influential businessperson, by that particular pastor, teacher or leader.

I am fully known. The One who matters most is the One who loves me most. Great joy lives in this truth.

When we operate from this knowledge each day, we don't have to decide consciously to interact with an attitude of giving, not getting. We don't have to remind ourselves not to make a fool of ourselves to gain someone's approval or attention.

No, when this deep desire in us is met, giving comes naturally. It comes subtly and subconsciously. Compliments, encouragement, tips, and gifts slip out of our mouths and out of our hands.

When the Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want. When the Lord is our Shepherd, we can't help but give.

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