The Lowest Seat

Would you be willing to take the lowest seat at the table?

Many older men I have turned to for wisdom, have all shared one similar sentiment in their conversations with me that has felt like heresy when I heard them share it:

“There are no shortcuts in the journey to maturity. No shortcuts in the Kingdom of God.” I used to feel something defensive rise up in me. I would get seriously offended at hearing that! I even remember thinking: “This couldn’t possibly be true! Surely, I have to be doing something!?! Something that gets me to the end goal as fast as possible!

I honestly used to believe that to be of any real value to the kingdom, I needed to be doing something significant.

It has been years since those conversations. Slowly, through one painful experience after another, through observations of my peers and their failures, plus the observation of the culture around me, this piece of counsel has proven to be absolute truth.

In fact, it’s me that now advises others:

“There are no shortcuts in this journey towards maturity. No shortcuts in the Kingdom of God.”

Somewhere deep in the core of my heart as a man, the idea of ‘no shortcuts’ has moved from a being a painful disruption I did not want to hear, to an absolute truth.

If everyone could just embrace this truth, it would utterly re-orient how we see, interpret and experience what Father God is trying to do in our lives to grow us.

Few have said it better than the co-founder of ‘The North Face’ clothing company, Douglas Tompkins, in the great documentary 180 Degrees South. Tompkins reflects on how the process of conquering Mt. Everest today has been compromised (or short-cutted). He basically says that if you compromise the process of hardship that naturally comes with such an epic adventure - by paying others to do all of the hard work for you - there will no benefit to your growth as a person, or to the development of your character… because the process has been compromised.

Tompkins’s message is blunt, but clear: “Don’t compromise the process!”

I mentioned in last month’s blog about Morgan Snyder of Ransomed Heart Ministries, who suggests we all need a Decade of Excavation in order to allow Father God to develop us into whole and mature saints.

Morgan Snyder adds to this already significant challenge by offering this disruptive question:

“Would you be willing to take the lowest seat at the table… until there is no other seat to take?”

Morgan has struck on a biblical principle here. In Proverbs 25:6 it says ‘do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence and do not claim a place among great men. It is better for him to say, “come up here”’.

Perhaps in order to line up a little more with Scripture, we could re-word Morgan’s challenging question to read as follows: “Would you be willing to take the lowest seat at the table – until you are called to ‘come up here’?”

Would you be prepared to always choose the lower position, in every situation, rather than elevate yourself – until God chooses to elevate you?

It might take the intervention and wisdom of older mentors to help you eventually see the value in remaining at the lowest seat. However, if you can do that for a Decade, trust me … when Father God promotes you - you will be ready.

Until next time,