You Must Become Less

John 3: 30 He must become greater; I must become less.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) website reports camp attendance of over 85,000 youth, and nearly 13,000 huddles occurring in 47 countries around the world.  In fact, many reading this devotional probably have been, or are involved in FCA activities.  While FCA is well known in Christian athlete circles, the founder of the organization is not.

Don McClanen coached high school basketball before becoming the athletic director and men’s basketball coach at Eastern Oklahoma University.  His vision to impact youth through sports was apparently spawned by a speaker at a conference who said they could either lead youth “up a mountain or down a drain”.  McClanen committed to God that he wanted to be a better model of Christian life.  He reached out to Christian athletes “who were strong in their faith – greats like football stars Doak Walker and Otto Graham…Olympians Bob Mathias and Bob Richards…”  It was after a 5-hour meeting with a Pittsburgh businessman that he received a $10,000 gift and FCA was born in Oklahoma in 1954.  McClanen dreamed of well-known athletes being the lights for young athletes.  “If athletes can endorse shaving cream, razor blades, and cigarettes,” he said. “Surely they can endorse the Lord.”

When people speak of McClanen, however, it was not of a boisterous man eager for the spotlight, but rather a man happy to be operating in the background.  “Yet McClanen always played a background role, never promoting himself. His departure from FCA in 1961 barely made a ripple outside of internal FCA circles.” “He spent over half a century after his departure tirelessly working for other Christian causes, all while continuing his lifelong habit of flying under the radar.” (The Humble Coach pg. 2)

In today’s scripture passage we read of John the Baptist.  John boldly preached the message of repentance and the coming of Christ.  He baptised many and had an effective and popular ministry.  He even had disciples who followed him; in fact, Jesus’ first two disciples were first John’s disciples (John 1:35-39).  John even baptised Jesus (Matthew 3: 13-17).  John’s followers were so zealous for him that when they saw Jesus baptizing more people than him they told John about it, as if there was something wrong with it.  (John 3: 25-26)   It was clear however, that despite John’s fame, which could have easily gone to his head, he understood his rightful place.  The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3: 29-30). 

How about you?  Have you learned the art of becoming less? Are others admiring you, or are they admiring the one who has given you all you have?  Are others relying on you, or are you continually pointing them back to the only one they should ever truly rely on?  You must become less so that Jesus can become greater.

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