To Be Known

What do you want to be known for? Think about this for a moment before reading on. What do you want people to say about you when you die? What do you want written in your obituary?

I would have responded differently to that question at different stages of my life. As a kid growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, I wanted to be known as a great athlete, a Hall of Fame baseball player like Johnny Bench or Pete Rose, a great basketball player like the Big O or Dr. J, or a world-class bowler like Earl Anthony or Dick Weber.

My athletic career was not that spectacular. I accumulated lots of trophies, but mostly because I happened to be on some good teams. I did receive three individual awards: one for best defense in basketball—which went to the kid who never scored a basket. In baseball one year, I received the “Most Spirited Player” trophy—which went to the kid who sat on the bench and cheered on the rest of the team.

My favorite award was the Most Improved Player—which went to the kid who didn’t stink quite as badly as the year before. The trophy had the initials “MIP” on the plaque. I overheard my mom telling all her friends I received the “Most Important Player” award. At least my mom appreciated my talent!

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In college, I would have said I wanted to be well known—period. Didn’t matter for what, just popular. I had gotten about as far as I could in most athletics, so just for fun, I tried out for the cheerleading squad at the University of Cincinnati. I figured at the very least I’d get to meet a few pretty girls. On a fluke, I made the squad—three years straight. I was proud to be a “big man on campus” with my cool letter jacket. I was “known.”

In my 20s, I would have said I wanted to be recognized for being successful. I climbed the ladder of success until that ladder—and everything else in my life—fell out from under me. That’s when I gave my life to Christ, and everything changed. Well, almost everything.

After becoming a Christian in my late-20s, if I were really honest, I might have said I wanted to be well known and successful as a Christian writer, small group “expert,” or minister. At times, in my more reflective moments, I might have said I wanted to be considered a good husband, a great dad, and a trusted friend.

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Today, I want to be like Enoch.

You don’t hear too many people say that, do you? People will say they want to have the faith of Abraham or the power of Moses or the wisdom of Solomon. But Enoch? Who is Enoch?

Enoch was one of only two people who were taken away to heaven without ever dying. The other was Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), who was whisked away to heaven in a whirlwind, accompanied by a chariot and horses of fire. But Enoch just suddenly disappeared. I love what Genesis 5:22-24 says about him: “Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years.” He enjoyed a close relationship with God throughout his life. “Then suddenly, he disappeared because God took him” (NLT).

No, I don’t want to live another 300 years! Neither is it necessary to just disappear without dying, unless it’s the rapture, of course. But I do want to live in close fellowship with God throughout what’s left of my life, until God takes me when he’s ready.

Enoch had a heart for God, and small group leadership starts with your heart. It starts with your relationship with God—seeking after him.

One of the key attributes from 1 Peter 5:2-4 for small group leaders is that you are “examples to the flock.” That’s why it is so critical that you are, first of all, a man or woman after God’s heart. It’s why the most important thing you can do as a leader is earnestly seek God every day.

-Michael C. Mack, World’s Greatest Small Group

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