“Saul, also known as Paul…” (Acts 13:9)
This verse marks the point in which the apostles name change becomes permanent. Formerly, he was ‘Saul.’ But for the rest of his life (and ever since), he would be known as… ‘Paul.’
‘Saul’ means ‘sought after.’
‘Paul’ means ‘little.’
The change of name matters. It’s descriptive of the journey that Paul had been on. Earlier in his life, he’d relished being ‘sought after.’ Now, he was content to be ‘little.’
I know something of this journey. For much of my life, I had the ambition to ‘be somebody’; to ‘make my mark’; to be known as an influential leader. For many years, that was the trajectory of my career. I loved being ‘sought after.’ When others pursued me, my ego swelled with endorphins. I loved the titles: Lead Pastor, CEO, President.
Now that I’m in my 60’s, I’m beginning to realize how little all of that mattered. This past Sunday, I preached in a small country church of 40 people. The vibe and feel were a whole lot different from the days when I preached to crowds of thousands. On Sunday, my ego didn’t get bolstered with the endorphins of being sought after. I didn’t feel successful or powerful. But I had a wonderful time… simply loving on a handful of humble Jesus-followers. Maybe I’m finally beginning to learn what it means to be content with insignificance. I’m not there yet; but instead of devoting my energy toward achieving something great, I’m learning to find my satisfaction and joy in the simple things: listening deeply, loving well, and cheering on the next generation of Kingdom leaders.
The descent into insignificance is actually pretty cool.