Romans 12:2 | Hebrews 13:8 | Mark 10:43 | Ephesians 2:10

The problem with winning the Rat Race is: you have to be a rat. 

It’s hard not to spend part of your life worrying about being popular. It might happen in high school. It might happen in college. It might happen in a retirement home. No matter when it happens, if you feel the pressure to be a certain way to please certain people, you are not alone.

Which would you prefer–to have everyone admire you, or to be completely unknown? Without other considerations, most would choose admiration over obscurity. Would you rather have the acceptance of your peers, or more of an outside-the-circle experience?

Why then, doesn’t everyone choose popularity? Because they are not willing to do whatever it takes to be popular. They have what some call “a backbone.” 

This is good. It’s even biblical. The Apostle Paul advised the early believers in Rome not to go in with every new thing, but instead to let God mold who they were so they could know Him.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 NLT

Have you ever tried to please The Crowd? If you have, you know it is EXHAUSTING. Why? Because The Crowd’s tastes change more rapidly and frequently than race car tires. 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

God is the same now, forever, and always. So stop trying to hit that moving target and focus on Him. 

Besides, the Popular Kids don’t have it as good as you think. As Morgan mentioned, everyone is insecure, to some degree. Do you want to really be great? Serve others.

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…”

Mark 10:43 NIV

A pitfall of popularity is exclusivity. Today “exclusive” is practically a curse word. People worry about excluding others, to a fault. Let’s not worry about it (because it is impossible to include everybody at all times; we have to make choices, for goodness’ sake!), but we also don’t have to hit the other extreme and embrace it.

When you look at Jesus’ ministry, it is plain to see that everyone is important to God. He taught people of all kinds, ate with people of all kinds, restored people of all kinds.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10 NLT

If you believe in Jesus, you are a new creation. You are God’s masterpiece. And you have good things to do that he set up before you were ever born.

Don’t worry about being popular; focus on God and do the good things you were made for. If you are popular already, good! Ask God how you can use that popularity to do those good things.

Questions for Group Discussion

  • Is it wrong to want to be popular? Why, or why not?
  • What was Jesus’ relationship with popularity? Did he chase it? Did he run from it? Did he want it?
  • Does popularity come with a price tag? Does it cost anything to be popular?
  • Are there inherent risks in being popular? If so, what are they? If not, why not?

Challenge: Popularity Poll

Have you ever wondered what it would take to be popular? Now is your chance to find out. If you’re up to the challenge, that is.

Full disclosure: This challenge is more suited to outsiders than insiders, where wide popularity is concerned. That said, it can still be done by a social insider, and will likely yield interesting results.

GOAL: Make a list of what it takes to be part of the most popular circle in your school, workplace, or other such venue.

  • This must NOT be done alone. Enlist the help of at least one other person.
  • Start with your own Speculative List of what you think is necessary for popularity.
  • Compile a second Insider List by consulting with members of the popular circle–more than one, as many as possible.
  • Compare your Speculative List with the Insider List. How are they different/alike?
  • Make some observations of what you learned from your interactions with the members of the popular circle.