Striving to be Somebody

Written by Lydia, Beijing, originally in Simplified Chinese

(The article below is inspired by a true story.)

“Study hard so you can become a somebody”, her parents used to tell her. And that was Sammy’s goal as a child—to make it someday, just like the next-door neighbor who made it to Oxford University. She accomplished her first step when she earned a place in one of the elite senior high schools. Her goal next was to follow in her seniors’ footsteps to gain entry into top universities.

She slogged through high school and her efforts paid off. She was accepted into one of the best business schools in China. It was a school brimming with the cream of the crop: individuals who nailed prestigious cross-major postgraduate study opportunities, received offers to Ivy League schools, and secured places at state offices or multinational corporations. Some were even recruited by investment banks right after graduation and  earned annual salaries that exceeded a million dollars. Being among the “elite”, Sammy wanted to be just as stellar; she wanted to be someone others looked up to.

In Sammy’s graduation year however, her country was hit by a financial crisis. After numerous unsuccessful job interviews, Sammy decided to accept an offer from a non-Fortune Global 500 company in order to stay in the cosmopolitan city, Beijing.

Every day during lunch break, Sammy would take a stroll in the park near her office to relieve stress. As she gazed at the flowers, which were neither as gorgeous as the peonies nor as beautiful as the roses, Sammy would think to herself, “The SME (small and medium enterprises) clients I am serving are just like these flowers. We are not the best, and we may never be. Can people like us still lead a glorious life?”

Whenever such thoughts crossed her mind, Sammy felt depressed. “I came from a first-class senior high school and an A-list university, how did I end up working in a second-class company, serving SMEs who might never get into the Fortune 500 list? If this goes on, will I be of any worth? Does my work matter? Compared to the who’s who from my alma mater, I’m really a nobody.”

These thoughts troubled her until she came to know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. She asked Jesus, “My Lord, what do you think of me and my job? Will I ever become a ‘somebody’?” When Sammy directed her attention to the cross, her perspective to life and work was turned on its head.

As she meditated on the person and work of Jesus, the true worth of a person became apparent to her. Jesus was God’s precious Son and God himself. Yet, He “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus died for sinners so that those who were separated from God could be brought back to God through Him. All her life she craved to be a “somebody”, but Jesus, the ultimate “somebody” of the entire universe, had lowered His status to that of a servant in order to save, essentially, everybody.

The people whom Jesus served did not only comprise the politicians, the wealthy and the successful, they included the prostitutes, the lepers, and the underprivileged who were powerless and despised. Though poor and needy in the sight of the world, they were valuable in Jesus’s eyes. The Bible clearly states that all of us are made in the image of God, and therefore, each one of us is worthy.

With this new perspective, Sammy came to this realization: if Jesus Himself did not measure people according to their wealth, jobs or social statuses, why should she measure the value of herself and her clients according to these standards? Her clients (and herself) were valuable in God’s sight. If she followed the Bible’s teaching and served her clients with Jesus’ love, she would be serving the Lord himself.

Sammy now had a new and bigger dream—to follow Christ. As Jesus said, “ For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Sammy finally understood that in God’s eyes, it was not about striving to be the best, it was about striving to serve others first, just as Jesus did.

She made the following prayer:

“Dear Lord, help me see others through your eyes and treat them as you would.
Help me imitate your ways, loving and serving others with humility and gentleness, pleasing you in all that I do.”

Can you identify with Sammy? Would you pray a similar prayer as her?

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