Over the past couple years, I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon online and through social media. Maybe you’ve noticed it, too. Seemingly out of nowhere, we have entered into a new age of the internet: The age of the guru.
Almost every week I receive an invite to sign up for an email newsletter or subscribe to a YouTube channel or like a new Facebook page or listen to a podcast from an acquaintance who has an exciting new business opportunity or has decided to become a “coach.”
Especially since I’m a writer and work in marketing, I get bombarded with these things all the time. I routinely get invited to seminars and video series guaranteeing to “exponentially grow my platform” and coach me into becoming a high-level influencer.
Since I work at a church, I get email newsletters (that I don’t remember signing up for) with “7 secrets every leader needs to grow a ministry” and “9 new trends your church needs to adopt today” and “12 things I did that BLEW UP my ministry to inner-city balloon artists!” (See what I did there?)
Whatever field you work in may not be as crazy as what I see from marketing and church folks, but the trend is certainly hard to avoid for some of us. More and more people are aiming to become “experts” whose opinions and experiences simply need to be shared and heard.
(Eye roll emoji.)
I wanted to address this issue because I have a confession: I’ve been tempted to hop on this bandwagon myself. Especially after reading some of those articles and listening to those podcasts, I find myself saying, “Man … this is considered expert advice? I’ve been doing this for years! If this guy is making a truckload of money telling people this stuff, maybe I’ve missed my calling! Maybe I, too, should share my infinite knowledge! Maybe I should grow my platform and start a bunch of things so people know my name and realize how important I am!”
(Now I’m rolling my eyes at myself.)
Before I go any further, I want to address one truth: I do believe some people jump on this expert/guru train with good intentions.
I have friends who really are experts in their fields, and they have good, honest hearts. They write articles and do interviews and publish content with the honorable goal of really trying to help people. They’ve accumulated some knowledge and tools over the years that have been helpful, and they honestly want to pass that on to others.
We need more of this. If your heart is pure and you legitimately aim to pass on knowledge, that’s one of the best uses of the internet and social media. We should share those things and do what we can to inspire and encourage others.
Sadly, I don’t think everyone has that goal in mind. Some of the emails and invites I receive feel a little more … icky. It’s impossible to truly know a person’s motive, and I want to be careful not to accuse people of heart issues I obviously can’t identify perfectly.
Still, you know what I mean. Most of us have built-in radar systems with fairly accurate phony-detection. Unfortunately some of the lists I’ve signed up for seem to be more interested in earning a buck and getting me on their list than actually helping me.
And that is a bummer.
One of the most famous passages of Scripture is what is known as the Beatitudes. In this popular sermon, Jesus makes some pretty bold claims: He says people are blessed when they are mourning or “poor in spirit” or persecuted — or a long list of other things most of us don’t really aspire to.
This list of blessings from Jesus doesn’t sound very fun, and it’s certainly counterintuitive.
I encourage you to read the passage for yourself, but one of those phrases has always stuck out to me:
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Meek. I don’t know about you, but the only time I’ve ever heard that word is when I’ve read or heard teaching on this verse. We don’t really talk about meekness very much these days, and I’m guessing many of you would have trouble defining it — I do!
One dictionary uses words like humble, gentle and kind. It even goes so far to say meekness can mean “tame” or “spiritless” or “docile.”
Meekness is considered weakness, especially in our image-obsessed, power-hungry world today. It’s not surprising people are tempted by the guru path instead. Gurus have power and influence and (probably?) money. Gurus are leaders and guides and titans of industry, and clearly that is what we’re supposed to pursue.
But Jesus seems to claim the complete opposite. Repeatedly through Scripture, Jesus applauds and perfectly models humility. In one exchange with His followers, two of Jesus’ disciples (and their mother — awkward!) have an argument about which disciples are the most important and would receive special accommodations in heaven. Here was Jesus’ response:
Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
This was one of the main points of Jesus’ message during His time on earth. Want to be great? Serve and do the work no one else wants to do. Want to honor God? Be kind to everyone and be generous to people no one else cares about. Want to gain your life? First you have to lose it. Want to be first? Write a bunch of articles, grow your email list, start a podcast and give away a free PDF ebook.
Want to be first? Be last. Stop putting yourself above others, and give and sacrifice and be humble. Or as Paul wrote:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
Be a Good Guru
Like I said, there is tremendous value in sharing knowledge. Whatever you do and whatever you’re good at, look for ways to give away your skills and be a blessing to people looking for help.
But here’s my warning to you and to myself: Don’t let go of meekness. It’s not weakness. Living with a meek spirit is a command from God and an honorable way to live. Pride is dangerous and annoying. Humility is appealing and refreshing.
Don’t give in to the guru temptation. Be generous and share skills and tips that are legitimately helpful with an attitude of humility and thankfulness. According to Jesus, you’ll “inherit the earth,” and you just might also grow your business or ministry.