Recently, a friend pointed out just how much we live like kings. In a world of haves and have nots, I like to think of myself as a have not. It serves my egotistical need for rebellion. But the truth is that I have a whole lot of what I want and I live a life of very few untended desires.
I have enough wealth to eat just about anything I want. My lunch today was a Bratwurst on a bun, a pile of Swedish meatballs, a small salad, and a handful of peanut butter cups. There were hundreds of other options. Yesterday, I decided to not got to a sporting event I already had tickets for. Just didn’t feel like it.
We have these ideas of wealthy kings who do whatever they want, eat whatever they want, and demand their subject’s admiration. I do pretty much all three of those things, especially since most of my work is freelance from home.
Drunk on Power
I’m so addicted to this kingly lifestyle that I get incredibly angry when things don’t go my way. I feel offended when someone walks too slowly in front of me on the sidewalk. I feel violated when people don’t go out of their way to affirm and admire me, annoyed they aren’t heaping their praises.
Just like kings of old, I have become a bit of a monster. Entitled. Prone to tantrums. Willing to tear the world apart to serve my pride.
It’s a bit frightening to think what I could become. Unchecked and ruled by my emotions, it is not hard to imagine a life of constantly pursuing and demanding more material things, seeking superficially what can only be achieved spiritually. Blaming others around me for my failings.
And worst of all, addicted to power. Believing the lie that I just need a little more wealth, a little more admiration, a little more control. Masking my selfish ambition in “leadership”. The world is full of individuals all living as though they are the king. And I am among them.
Longing for Legacy
Like any other king, it is not just about superficial pleasures. Rulers throughout history have found that the spoils are not enough to satisfy. Power is an insatiable hunger. It always wants more. Traditional kings want to have sons so their lineage can be established – a dynasty. Or they want to build massive cities to show their glory.
Just like them, I want something transcendent. Something that will last. What is it that will eventually satisfy me? What will bring purpose and meaning to my existence? The King’s of old thought it was a legacy, but most of the time this is just passing the uncertainty of vision to the next generation. Prolonging the dissatisfaction.
Maybe all this longing is for something more. Maybe it is beckoning us all to an intentional and meaningful purpose. Can I find this in the midst of all the material possessions and pleasures? Or is it better to give it all away, simplify? Perhaps this is what Jesus is addressing when he talks about the camel in the eye of the needle.
The fulfillment of purpose drives us all. Will I be like the kings of history who never really discovered what mattered to them and how to live a meaningful life? Or will I be able to find my purpose in the midst of all the glittery distractions and build a life committed to that purpose rather than the preservation of my power?
Stewarding My Influence
In the worst of kings, the first thing to go is the understanding that their position is an opportunity to influence others for good. Instead, they view their abilities as a vacuum to accumulate all the possessions and accolades into themselves. An insatiable thirst for affirmation.
The best of history’s kings are those who served people through kindness and sacrifice, giving their time, attention, and abilities to make the world a better place for all citizens.
Does my fear keep me from using my influence well? Is my love silenced by my insecurity… or my pride?
Leaders are meant to serve, to steward their influence in a way that allows the people around them to find their own unique purpose and live towards it.
This is a little of what it looks like for me. What about you? Are you living like a King? What kind of king are you going to be?