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"Tony Robinson is one of the most active church leaders in the United States, greatly in demand as he teaches congregations and denominations about church life. His work has a deep theological underpinning, which many congregational-development gurus don't have."

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author of The Gospel and the New York Times and And God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament

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Posted May 23, 2016:

Are You An Important Person?

Christian Century magazine publisher, Peter Marty, related a story about the long-time, now retired Michigan congressman, Ron Dingell. Dingell was coaching a new congress member, Ron Kind, from Wisconsin.

Dingell told Kind, “Ron, never forget that you’ve got an important job, but you’re not an important person. The second you start thinking that you’re an important person, you start to cut corners and think the rules don’t apply to you.”

I liked that advice, and the distinction between having important work to do but not thinking you are an important person. People do fall in love with themselves and come to think they are “important,” even essential or irreplaceable. And the result, as Dingell says, is not good. Eventually, such foolishness and arrogance catch up with a person.

I have seen this with some clergy, usually pastors of large churches. I have felt the temptation myself. Beware of thinking of yourself as “important.”

In another sense, of course, each of us is important. And the maxim might be different for those who are in less-heralded and less-visible positions. People in those spots may suffer a different temptation, to believe that they are insignificant, that their lives and actions do not matter. I tend to think, and experience confirms, that what we do makes a lot more difference than we think, whether for good or ill.

At any rate, those whom the world counts “important,” are surely wise to heed Dingell’s advice and not get too wrapped up in their own significance. Their temptation is pride.

But those whom the world counts insignificant and lowly, to ring changes on a theme of the Apostle Paul, may be wise to know that God often counts as important and significant that which the world does not. Their temptation is not pride, but despair.

Are you important? Yes, and no.

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