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SMALL SHADOW, BIG INFLUENCE By Jacquelin Stoner

Read: Philippians 2:5-11

Reflect: Having “Little Hitler” as a nickname is no compliment, yet that is what we called our choral director behind his back. He ruled the chorale with an iron fist and it was his way or the highway in all things. Though the guy was small in stature, he was rather scary. In my time at that Christian school, I never evidenced a moment where he personally displayed to me the character of Christ which we see in Philippians 2:5-8. If I could have seen that, especially at that point in my life, it would have been pivotal. Instead, I mentally packed Little Hitler into my heart’s baggage which was already filled with encounters with off-kilter “Christian” power figures. Through his example, and the life stories of others, I thought that Christian leadership was all about one’s own agenda and how to could push one’s desires on to others. How wrong I was!

         In contrast, we have the example of Christ in Philippians 2. There were no hidden agendas with Him, no power plays, no selfish grasping of control. He had no desire for advancement or promotion. All this was fully displayed in the life of One Who had 12 legions of angels at His disposal. (Matt. 26:23) (By the way, a legion was composed of between 4,000 and 6,000 soldiers.) Christ could have wiped off the face of the earth the Pharisees, the Roman persecutors and all of those who wanted to cause Him harm. Instead, He chose every day to invest His life into followers who often did not get along with each other and misinterpreted or ignored His words. Furthermore, He patiently put one foot in front of the other, carefully only listening to His Father’s voice. So many were curious about the One Who they thought would be their political savior and the answer to all their selfish desires. Jesus is the only One I know Who would choose to climb out of His own agony on the cross in order to reach out to save yet one more (Luke 23:39-40). That’s what humbling oneself is all about.

         Daily, Christ consistently relied alone on the strength and power of the Holy Spirit and He chose to stay obedient, even on to death. He never demanded recognition and honor. He just quietly went about His Father’s business. Oh, how I wish I could have personally witnessed the disciples’ encounters with Christ and seen what they were: the personhood and love of God in the flesh.

         So, the question arises: how are your personal agendas working out? Have you made it your life’s work to straighten others out? To give them a piece of your mind? To take your demands for justice into your own hands? Or have you handed your personal cravings over to God and decided no matter what, you will love God dearly, humble yourself at the feet of Jesus, and quietly and obediently go about the Father’s business in all things. 

Apply: There is a choice here. A choice that can drastically alter your life’s path and your perception of your journey here on earth. Are you continuing in the footsteps of the “little hitlers” on earth? If I could have seen such a godly character transformation in that choral director, it would have drastically impacted my life while I was still in my twenties. I would have wanted to follow his example in my own life. I ask you, are you the one that displays the character of Christ in all things, or are you the one who goosesteps, following the example of a power grabber? It’s a choice.