Free Friday: Embracing Obscurity

The trouble with you and me and the rest of humanity is not that we lack self-confidence (as we’re told by the world) but that we have far too much self-importance.

The thought of being just another of the roughly one hundred billion people to have ever graced this planet offends us—whether we realize it or not. We have such a high opinion of ourselves that to live and die unnoticed seems a grave injustice.

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 11.02.39 AMYet for the vast majority of us, has God called us to anything else? Webster’s  defines obscurity as, “relatively unknown: as . . . (b) not prominent or famous.”

That pretty much sums us the vast majority of humankind, doesn’t it? Even those rare men and women who make a mark on our society—a passionate speaker, a star athlete, an active politician, a gifted musician, an empathetic humanitarian—they’re still “relatively unknown” in the grand scope of the world’s consciousness and especially in light of history.

Even we authors can’t escape obscurity.

Every time I visit a Barnes & Noble, I’m ready to lay down my pen for good. Solomon’s words taunt me as I stare at the obscene number of volumes: “There is no end to the making of many books.” (Eccles. 12:12)!

In the big picture we’re all in this obscurity thing together. That’s hard to remember in our little bubbles of influence.

It’s easy to think we’re somebody when we’re well known at church, or in a particular industry, or at our children’s schools.

When we have a nice portfolio, or a few letters after our name, or have a commemorative plaque on a little park bench somewhere, our pride creeps in and tempts us to want more: more recognition, more admiration, more influence, more, more, more.

Few, myself included, have ever given thought to wanting less.

Obscurity comes in many forms: It can be either assigned (by God) or chosen (by us).

I don’t know whether one is harder than the other. I just know that from a prideful, human point of view, either can gnaw at us.

We don’t want to live as one in a crowd. We don’t want to be just another person living in a subdivision in the suburban sprawl that has become America. And we certainly don’t want to die without making our mark on something . . . anything.

Even when an overarching, global obscurity has been assigned to us, we still have a choice of whether to embrace personal obscurity—an obscurity of heart as much as position. And that is the message I believe God has for us, a message He modeled as well as taught.

Adapted from Embracing Obscurity (2012, B&H Publishing Group)

We’re giving away three copies of Embracing Obscurity today! Enter to win by leaving a comment with your first and last name!

By entering today’s giveaway, you acknowledge LifeWay Christian Resource’s official promotion rules found hereToday’s giveaway starts at the posting time of this blog and ends next Tuesday (9/10/13) at 11:59 p.m. CST. You must be 18 to enter, and you may only enter once. The winner will be selected at random. For questions about the rules and regulations of this giveaway, please contact Bud Harlan at One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-140.


  1. Kelly Green says

    Would love to win the book because goes right along with our women and girl’s them for the year from John 3:30. “He must be come greater; and I must become less”!
    Kelly Green

  2. says

    Yes, we should be willing to be the ANYone, the nobody … but even this post prompts us to be somebody. :)

    Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. John 14:23 NIV

    Sonya La McCllough

  3. Colleen says

    Yes…….all too true. Would love to win this……just one question. Is the author REALLY anonymous? OR Is the name inside the book? This is a very smart concept……a book with this subject matter and we don’t know the author?? Hahaha…love it, I think. 😉

  4. kim says

    thank you for this message. I love the concept of wanting less… or not wanting for more. however, my flesh is weak, but when I am weak, he is strong.

  5. Kristi says

    What a good reminder. I do want my life and work with women to be all about Him and not about me. His glory, not mine. Why is it the ‘me’ wants to creep in there? I would love to read this book. Thank you for the giveaway.
    Kristi Longino

  6. andrea t. says

    Feeling the Chosen by me stage… WHYYYYYYYYYYY?
    Will this put perspective on for me????
    I can’t believe that there is a study on this!!!
    OH LORD, you speak to my heart.

  7. Mary T says

    I took a few moments to think about obscurity….I believe that God has His plans for us…noticed or unnoticed, we do all things to serve the Lord. Recognition gives us opportunities to give all credit, glory, praise and honor to Him. Obscurity gives us the same opportunity within our hearts! Both are what they are…an opportunity to love and serve our Lord!

  8. Bonnie Horne says

    I am presenting a message at our Women’s annual Kick-Off Event next Saturday that has almost the same point as this…God is always there to give us a boost…. I would love to read the book! Pray for me, this is the first time I am delivering a message!

  9. Sarah says

    This is a topic that can cut to the core for many esp when we’ve answered a call to be at home with little ones. It’s exactly what I needed to be reminded that my identity truly rested in Him alone. Sarah Gatewood

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