Is your public life larger than your private life?
A few months ago, I heard someone speak about having a breakdown. One of the reasons they gave for getting in that situation was that their public life had become larger than their private life.
What they said really impacted me. There have been so many people, particularly in ministry roles who have come unstuck and caused colossal damage because their public life became bigger than their private life.
Let me clarify that when I am talking about ‘private’ life I am talking about your relationship between yourself and God. Those times where it is just you and Him. How often are you alone with Him? In contrast, your public life is the one we live out in the open. It involves the way we present ourselves in public and go about doing what we do, whether that be in business, ministry or life in general.
When I think of public versus private life, I see that Jesus had both. His most public time began in His 30’s where He would teach at the local synagogue and draw large crowds on mountain tops and by the seaside. But we also know that Jesus had a private life. In fact, I would like to suggest that Jesus private life was bigger than His public one. We read throughout scripture that Jesus often withdrew to pray. Even in times where His public ministry was taking off, He would still take time to withdraw and nourish His private life.
Jesus didn’t let the call of public life overshadow the importance of His private life. As Christians God is our source. Remember how John 15:4 talks about us abiding in the vine? As sons and daughters of God, we are connected to Him. Because of this, we need our private life to be bigger than our public one so that we will not stray away from that connection and try to do things on our own. Our private life is our lifeline. It’s where we examine our heart and mind and we seek the will of God. When we continue to do this, we are protected from idolising the words and affection of others.
Jesus spent time alone with God to hear what He had to say (John 5:19) and follow what He said. He probably also received refreshment and empowerment from the Father to continue on His work. All of these things are key if we are going to do our journey of faith well.
When we allow our public life to become bigger, we leave ourselves in a very vulnerable position. Public life is very alluring. Most of today’s society is built on it. From social media to social situations, they all thrive on how the population hears and sees us. We are encouraged to give all we have and be available to everyone in order to be successful. It also entices us with flattery. Many people have fallen after giving everything to the ministry in the name of serving God, when sometimes all they are really doing is serving their own ego. The praises of people can be very tempting and our desire to get more can drive us to neglect the importance of prioritising our private life.
Our private life can be a very daunting place. Taking time to consider how we are doing and examine the intentions of our heart is something most of us would rather avoid. We also shy away from the quietness required to sit and wait for God to speak. The world does not sing your praise or even notices the time you spend privately. There will be no plaque in honour of you doing this. Yes, the private world is not an easy place, but it is a necessary one.
The time you spend in the private place is not wasted. People will notice something about you as you continue to do it. Maybe you will be calmer in situations that would usually have flustered you. You may find yourself sharing wisdom you never thought you had. You may even find a newfound capacity for people that you never knew you had.
We are so privileged to be called the sons and daughters of God. We are blessed because of Christ to be in an intimate relationship with the Father. The private life is a privileged one that we need to value and also protect. Having a private life that is bigger than our public one is the best way to live our lives in a way that truly honours God.
Lord, please prompt me when my public life is becoming bigger than my private life. Help me to value the time we have together and keep it precious. Amen