I remember as a kid sitting in Sunday school with a flannel board in front of me as our teacher told us the story of the Tower of Babel. She told us that the people built the tower so they could reach heaven and see God. For years I believed that to be true. It made sense, right? The Bible is full of amazing narratives: a talking donkey, a great flood, a chariot of fire (not the movie), Jesus’ miraculous birth and resurrection and the list goes on. Why couldn't people build a tower so high they could climb up and see God?
Of course, later I learned the real reason why the people tried to build the great tower. (Thanks a lot, Mrs. Sunday School Teacher!)
To find the real reason for their tower building efforts we need look closely at what Genesis 11:1-4 says:
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, aand bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
We know the reason for the Tower. The people wanted to boast and brag of their own achievements. They craved praise for themselves not God. In other words they were building a physical structure that would testify to their greatness. It was a "Me Monument." The problem is that I can relate to their efforts.I’ve built some whoppers (not the burger) of towers in my life, boasting of my achievements, drawing attention to me and my efforts. The craziest part to me is that this thinking affected a whole city of people, not that long after the Flood. So God had just finished destroying the world with a massive flood and had begun the process of rebuilding. What happens? Man comes along and thinks he can do a better job . . . Unbelievable.
So what about us as youth workers today? Are we, like the people in Tower of Babel account, guilty of seeking fame and glory for ourselves? Are we building monuments to boast of our achievements? Or are we rightfully giving God all the credit?
Here are a few questions to ponder as you go about your day . . .
- If you're honest with yourself, do you view your ministry's growth (numerical or spiritual) through the lens of your efforts, or through the lens of God's grace?
- Are your Facebook, Twitter, blog, and/or youth group website being used as a "Me Monument" or tools to speak the Gospel and give glory to God? (With so many networking tools available online today many of us, including myself, are taking advantage of these tools so we can share and get the word out about our ministries and even our private life. But how quickly do we get caught up and forget to share what God is doing!)
- What monuments are your students building with their lives? Monuments to material stuff, athletic achievement, or appearance?
The people of Babel built their tower out of bricks (fragile) instead of stone (solid). Our personal lives and our ministries must be built on the stone-solid foundation of Christ, not the brick-fragile weakness of our best efforts.
Let's take a moment and ask ourselves today: what towers are we babbling about lately? Is the purpose God's glory or ours?