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  • Stacy Sanchez

Called to Irrelevance

by Stacy Sanchez

The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in a contemporary world…—Henri Nouwen.

To be a leader, you must become irrelevant. Try saying that at a Writers’ conference.  

If I am irrelevant, there will be no need for self-promotion. I won’t need to plaster my face all over social media and grow my platform. I won’t need to worry about email list numbers, having multiple social media sites, or making live videos because they attract more attention than still pictures.

Let’s just be real. We’re friends, right? (If not, find me on Facebook and Instagram.) How many of our social media ministry opportunities are back-handed attempts to gain followers? Or is that just a me thing? Let’s just selah on that for a minute together.

This is the life we live as Christians in this age. We MUST reach everyone for Jesus every day, in every way possible, and be more clever than the next person. Sometimes, I feel like I’m hawking the latest multi-level marketing plan: “Sign up today, and you’ll receive a free get-out-of-hell card. Get a friend to sign up, and you’ll receive extra revelation from the Holy Spirit no one else has.”  

Jesus doesn’t need a carnival barker, an influencer, or a marketing company. He needs people who are surrendered to Him and who allow Him to move freely through them. 

I’ve tried to be relevant. I’ve made posts I hoped would gain followers. I’ve pulled my punches in my writing so as not to offend. I’ve written pieces I thought would garner the most attention—and acclaim.

God is more concerned about our character than our comfort. 

As I write this, it is the beginning of the writing award season. I sent in eight pieces of my best work to a prestigious writing contest. I am an unknown, fledgling writer, so I decided not to tell anyone I had entered. That way, I wouldn’t be embarrassed if I didn’t win. What could it hurt? Come to find out? My pride.

Writing coaches teach that contests are an excellent opportunity for new writers to get their names out there and to receive feedback on our writing. Winning an award would help agents and publishers take notice. More notoriety would potentially open doors for more writing opportunities and, therefore, more ministry opportunities. Win-win.

I entered eight pieces, but none were chosen. Not. Even. One!

You’d think those had been pretty good odds. I better not try my luck in Vegas. 

(I sure hope this becomes my “Michael Jordon getting cut from his high school basketball team” story as I accept the Pulitzer someday.) 

He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30 NIV).

As Christians, we are called to be irrelevant.  

John the Baptist realized this just before his head was handed to him on a platter. I was reminded of him as I listened to the plethora of names called as finalists—except mine. 

John’s ministry opportunities were flourishing. The social media of Israel’s day buzzed about him. People flocked to see what he was doing. His influence was growing, as he led people back to God. He was doing stellar work. But God had other plans. 

Most of us are not all called to be martyred in the name of Jesus. But we are all called to die to ourselves and our pride. 

To be a Christian leader of any sort, we must become irrelevant. We must embody the verse: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

I am irrelevant. What a gift! I no longer need to strive for anything. I breathe to the rhythm of God’s heartbeat. I live at the mercy of His grace. I lay down my life and crucify my need for importance and validation. My reward is Him. 

Lord Jesus, our lives are to be lived in You and through You. Help us not to seek worldly acclaim. Being validated by others pales compared to being seen and loved by You. Forgive our selfish striving. We trust that You will use us as You choose. If it is Your will to choose another instead, what is that to us? We follow You!


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