This week, the quarterly Furman University magazine arrived. It takes all of 45 seconds for me to flip to and read the class of 1999 section.
I'm pretty much done with it after that. But I never skip the class updates section, because on one level, I do want to see what is happening with people.
In the rare chance I actually recognize the name, it can serve as a supplement to Facebook in keeping up.
On the other hand, these celebratory updates can seem eerily self-absorbed.
"Mr. So and So is now acting president of the prestigious company X, has 2 beautiful children and a golden retriever."
You see, Furman is not looking at their alumni and seeking updates; it is very much the other way around.
People can become successful. Great.
But have you ever thought about what might drive people to send in these updates?
The same thing that often drives people to spend more money than needed on their children, houses, and spouses: to appear successful.
Successful people often want others to know how successful they are.
I'm not saying everyone who sends in an update thinks like this when they send one in.
But I do think this is the "default" motivation of us all. We want to look successful to others.
This past week I was reading in II Corinthians 12 where the Apostle Paul refers to boasting about his weaknesses.
How crazy is that? But wouldn't it be refreshing if we could do that?
Wouldn't it be nice to see this update: "Geoff Henderson was recently fired for negligence, his child brought lice to school, and now lives with his parents?"
I think I would enjoy the updates section a little more if people sent in stuff like that!
Wouldn't you want to spend time with someone so secure?
Of course he would have to be lice-free. I get that part.
I really think there are two types of people.
Those who recognize they don't measure up and are OK with it, and those who are still trying in some way to measure up to their peers or parents. Honestly I flip-flop back and forth.
It's why the gospel message attracts me and offends me at the same time.
It is attractive to me, because I can hang with other more "successful" (physically, financially, morally, spiritually) looking people not feel inferior. I don't measure up to whatever is the standard du jour, and that's OK because Jesus measured up for me.
He even told his disciples not to rejoice at ministry success -- although you could apply that to all kinds of success -- but to "rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
If I'm ever amazed at the works my hands have done, Jesus will say: "Take a look at my hands and my works little brother!"
If I believe Jesus measured up for me, I can hang out with the who's who and the who's not. And fit right in!
I can send in the same update with a different motivation. But in the end, I no longer have to update you of any of my "successes."
Pastor Geoff Henderson, Harbor Community Church can be reached at email@example.com. or go to Harborcommunitychurch.org or inthekeyofh.com. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald written by local clergy members.