“Don’t believe your own press.”
It’s an expression repeated over and over (and over!) to people: “don’t believe your own press.” In other words, don’t let the good things people say about you get to your head. Don’t get prideful about it.
And then time and again, we witness people in leadership positions fall hard because they began to believe their own press. They believed they were powerful and untouchable. Perhaps they were getting away with a lot, but then it all comes crashing down and the hubris of the person shocks us.
While I wish we were immune, it certainly happens in the church world. Power is power and while power in and of itself isn’t sinful, power (and prestige typically associated with it) can draw us into sin very quickly. And it’s because we start to believe our own press.
In the Bible, there was a man named John (not the Apostle and author of the book of John) who was called “the baptizer” or “the baptist” because he dunked people in water to show their cleansing from sin. Prophetically, he was the forerunner to Jesus—like an opening act.
It would have been very easy for him to believe the hype associated with him. The baptizer could have easily ridden the wave of popularity and infamy the Jewish people and their leaders gave him.
As we continue our study in the Gospel of John, we first read of him in John 1:6-8:
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.John 1:6-8
New International Version
John the Baptizer had a specific function in the Kingdom of God. It isn’t significant to the Gospel of John (the Apostle) that John the Baptizer was Jesus’ first cousin (His mother, Elizabeth, was Mary’s cousin). Here, Scripture isn’t emphasizing his pedigree; it’s emphasizing his role.
John the Baptizer was a witness to the light of Jesus. He was a mirror of the radiance of Jesus. The light in John’s life didn’t come from him, but it was reflected from the Lord. It’s like how the Moon doesn’t give light; it reflects it from our Sun.
John the Baptizer didn’t believe his own press. He didn’t let the attention change his focus. He fulfilled his role in the Kingdom to the glory of God. As we go through the Gospel of John (the Apostle), we’re going to get to know John the Baptizer fairly well.
A friend of mine told me years ago to “hang on to a compliment for five minutes and then let it go.” She was saying to not internalize a compliment so much that our head swells. If we start to believe the compliments and accolades we’re given, we’ll mistakenly think all the compliments and accolades are true!
Certainly, when someone gives us a compliment we should be grateful. Certainly, there’s bound to be truth to what someone is complimenting us for (or they wouldn’t be saying it). But when we receive that compliment, try the advice of my friend: hang on to it for five minutes, and let it go.
Be like John the Baptizer. Reflect the glory to God for what He’s done in your life. Let others know your abilities, talents, gifts, and skills are part of the Lord’s plan. Shine that spotlight on the Lord and lift Him high. Not only will it keep you humble, the Lord will bless you for it.