He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30 ESV)
Based on my experience and observations, there is a human desire to be known, loved, and to have significance. For some people, their sense of worth is found in their accomplishments, awards, and college degrees because they establish credibility and boost reputations. For others, it is possessions and social status.
What insecurities do we have that move us to create the illusion of a well put together life? Was there a failure in the past that created a painful memory? Does an untamed remorse lead us to overcompensate with acts of service? Or was it a painful loss that we are trying to replace? Most of us do not want to be judged by our failures, but only by the good we bring to our community.
John the Baptist, on the other hand, understood and accepted his role. When you read about his description the Bible says that he “wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4). By today’s standards, he would be viewed and treated like a homeless outcast. But he knew his role and he stuck to his purpose: preaching and advising people to repent.
He wasn’t looking for honor, fame, or recognition. He found and accepted his security in the Lord. John demonstrated humility in this context by making much about God and projecting less of himself. He is Lord, and I am not; and I am okay with that if I gain nothing else from this world.