Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Footnotes and foot soldiers

Humility would be a much more appealing virtue if, having developed it, you were allowed to enjoy people praising you for the achievement. Unless you were the kind of modest person of Winston Churchill’s famous put-down: one “who has much to be modest about.” Ouch.

I’ve never been one for the spotlight—too much pressure—but I do like my place in the chorus line, the opportunity to take at least one bow. On the edges, rather than behind the scenes. But noticeable, nonetheless. I guess that’s as close as you can get to glory if you don’t have guts.

The sad truth is that I’d rather be a footnote than a foot soldier: someone who gets at least a little mention, rather than someone simply doing their duty.

Like referencing the highly successful author whose breakthrough book came from a column I initiated when editing a magazine some years back. When someone brings his name up, I’m likely to chip in and mention that I knew him back in the day, hoping they’ll ask more so I can tell all.

Yes, I did have a hand in his early career, but the reality is that he was a major talent waiting to be found. If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else soon.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a friend whose maxim is, “What might be achieved if it didn’t matter who got the credit?” He’s lived by it for years, with some remarkable results as he has brought organizations together to make a difference in the world. Sometimes his name gets mentioned, usually not. He’s too busy getting things done to pay much attention.

Though I share the name of one of the apostles, my friend is much more of an Andrew than I am.

The New Testament records that Andrew introduces his brother to Jesus, but it’s Peter that gets most of the subsequent ink. I’d have at least wanted Peter to begin his sermons by noting that if it weren’t for his terrific brother (pointing at yours truly), he wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to become keeper of the keys.

Andrew’s even left out of the inner circle at the transfiguration; how come brothers James and John get to go, and Peter is invited, but Andrew is left behind? I’d have really sulked if that had been me.

But I’m struck that Andrew gets referenced in Scripture not so much to bring him to attention, as to show that his main concern seems to have been bringing others to Jesus’ attention.

Andrew brings Peter to Jesus (John 1:40-41).

Andrew brings a little boy and his packed lunch to Jesus (John 6:8-10).

Andrew brings the searching Greeks to Jesus (John 12:20-22).

Maybe the lesson is that when the emphasis is on bringing people to the Son, you don’t mind standing in the shadows.

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