Seek Not Great Things For Yourself

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) was the greatest preacher of his generation.  Interestingly though, Spurgeon was never college trained, and was never officially ordained.  He did have a voracious appetite to read, and his mind retained almost everything he studied.  Most importantly, he had a passionate love for his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and a desire and gift to preach.  At just 17 years of age he became the pastor of a little Baptist church in the village of Waterbach.

He was really happy serving in that little country church.  Many were coming to know the Lord.  But Charles’ father, Joseph Spurgeon, an experienced pastor, wanted something more for his son.  He wanted him to attend Stepney College, the leading Baptist College in England.  Graduating from Stepney would put the stamp of approval on Spurgeon’s ministry.  Spurgeon didn’t want to go.  He loved that little village church, but reluctantly he followed his father’s advice.

To be accepted into the program, prospective students had to be interviewed by the college principal.  Charles set up his interview and arrived one time.  A maid answered the door and brought him into a sitting room.  He waited there for a couple of hours with no sign of the principal.  Frustrated, he left the room and found the maid only to discover that she had shown the principal into another room on the opposite side of the house.  The principal had waited and waited, but finally left to catch a train.  Charles’ interview never happened.

He left that day, and as he walked and thought about what happened he heard the voice of the Lord in his heart, “Seekest thou great things for thyself?  Seek them not!”  Right away his heart felt a peace.  He knew that he was God’s minister already.  God was sending him back to that little village church to preach.  Worldly praise and attention wasn’t something that was to drive his life.

Interestingly enough, just a short while later Spurgeon would receive the invitation that would forever change his life.  He was invited to preach and later to pastor New Park Street Baptist Church in London.  He would spend the next 40 years of his life ministering in that church.  A great revival would breakout in that church that would touch all of London.  Because Spurgeon listened to God, walked humbly, and didn’t seek great things for himself, he was free to step into this divine opportunity.  Spurgeon would later refer to that missed interview as, “the Lord’s hand behind the maid’s mistake.” (Spurgeon – A New Bigoraphy, Arnold Dallimore, 2005)

God help us to be humble.  God help us to submit our plans to him, and then allow him to change them as he sees fit.  What a tragic thing to forge our own path and miss God’s best.  May we, like Spurgeon, seek not great things for ourselves.  Isn’t that what Jesus did?

Philippians 2:5-7 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing…”


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