Leadership Personal

The Darkroom

Our generation has an insatiable desire to be discovered. We want to go from zero to ten overnight. In our day to day stories, feeds, and live streams, we have this need to be seen and heard. It’s a desire that’s built into a generation who has known nothing but overnight success and fame. I’ve fallen victim to this over and over again. I’ve struggled for years with my “social presence,” follower count, and content creation to support this habit. We desire to have a curated, produced, and flawless appearance in our digital world. I’d like to spend some time addressing a few of these things.

I was born in 1992. I joke all of the time my generation was the last generation to play in the dirt. I remember what life was like without a cell phone, when dial-up internet was something from The Jetsons, and the biggest “social media” decision to make was determining your AIM screen name. In 2018, it’s instant. I can post an Instagram story and in moments it’s accessible to millions of people around the world. Talk about futuristic.

Until a few years after I was born my dad was a professional photographer. I think our first digital camera was around the early 2000’s and up to that point, I remember packing 35mm film every time we went somewhere. The crazy thing about film is the process it takes to produce an image. Not only is film cumbersome just merely getting into the camera, but after the image is taken, the film must be developed to even see what it looks like. I remember going through airport security with dozens of film rolls in filmgaurd bags hoping it wouldn’t get ruined by x-ray machines. After a trip, we’d take the film to get developed at a photo studio. This developing process was lengthy compared to the instantaneous results of today. The film goes into a darkroom where it goes through a series of steps used to produce the final image.

In this darkroom, the film goes through several chemical baths, an enlargement process, a development process, and a final refining process before the image is ready. This is tedious, time-sensitive, and perfecting work. Compare that with how we “develop” images today – none of this process is necessary. We snap a photo with our iPhone and upload it instantly to a cloud where all of our memories are stored for the foreseeable future. Or at least until Russia gets ahold of them. (too soon?) Once our images get edited, filtered, and uploaded online they are free to solicit likes, comments, retweets, and follows. However, once a photo comes out of a darkroom, sometimes the only place for it to go is a picture frame.

God Does the Choosing

I’d like to share the story of a man named David. David’s story appears in 1 & 2 Samuel. I’ll start in 1 Samuel 16 if you’d like to follow along for the complete story.

We start with a man named Samuel who was a prophet. God told Samuel that He was going to appoint a new King over the nation of Isreal. (1 Sam 16:1) This new king would come from the house of a man named Jesse who lived in Bethlehem. Jesse had eight sons, surely one of them was fit to be king, right? (1 Sam 16:7) Samuel traveled to Jesse’s house, when he reached Bethlehem to anoint the new king of Isreal, there was a problem. After Samuel went through the seven sons that were present, he asked Jesse if he had anymore to choose from (think about what must be going through Jesse’s mind at this point). Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, but right now he’s tending the sheep.” (1 Sam 16:11). The youngest son, David, wasn’t present, and why should he be? His father Jesse surely found him insignificant and definitely not a prospect to be the next King of Isreal. At the age of about 15, Jesse’s eighth son, the youngest, the most insignificant, the shepherd boy, was anointed the king of Isreal. Talk about a turn of events for Jesse and his sons. The son that Jesse found to be unworthy of a crown, is now the future King of Isreal.

While David was anointed King of Isreal at the age of 15, he didn’t become king until about the age of 30. That’s 15 years of time before he could take his rightful, anointed place as King. Imagine knowing that you are the anointed King of an entire people group but not being appointed to that position for almost 15 years. I’d be a little upset. The 15-year time span that David had between being anointed and being appointed was very telling. He spent time running for his life, living in caves where he starved, and his faith being tested to the extreme.

God Has Already Discovered You

God has a plan even if you’re surrounded by people who find you insignificant. While David was anointed King of Isreal he wasn’t appointed until he went through 15 years of obscurity, of process, of development. God had already discovered David, even before he was anointed or appointed. He already had a plan for David. The same goes for us. God has already discovered us. He’s already set us apart, anointed and pursued us. The problem isn’t in the discovery, it’s in the development. We don’t need to be discovered, we need to be developed. We don’t need Scooter Braun to discover us and bring us to the masses. (No offense Scooter) We need to go into the “darkroom” and be put through the development process that leads to a refining transformation by God. This is the ultimate sustainable equation for success. This is the ultimate influencer platform.

God has already discovered you, now He wants to develop you. Click To Tweet

God Wants to Develop You

So many of us who call ourselves Christians know the process. We know about God, we know the right answers, and we know how to get the proverbial “likes.” But have we been developed by God? Have we let Him take us into the darkroom and crush us so that something new develops? Something bright, vibrant – something worthy of being appointed. When we are called by God he begins something that only he can sustain and finish. Philippians says:

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 1:6 HCSB

God is obligated to sustain what He started. He will never leave us out to dry. It might take 15 years to complete, but sometimes God will test us to make sure we’re still faithful, we’re still purusing Him, and we are still worthy of the calling He’s placed on our life. Sometimes this development process is a change in relationships, environment, or simply building habits. It’s different for everyone.

God is obligated to sustain what He started. Click To Tweet

In closing, don’t be afraid of the darkroom. Don’t be afraid to be developed by God. It’s going to take a while. I would rather be developed by God than elevated by man. My hope and significance isn’t found in Instagram likes or applause, or in cash flow. It’s found in the desperate longing to be refined and developed by my creator. You are more than your social following. If you find yourself getting affirmation from your social presence, I challenge you to escape into the darkroom and let God develop you. Let Him shape you through prayer, His word, and through key relationships in your life.

Just as God anointed David then took him into 15 years of development, of process, let God take you into the darkroom.

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