Purposeful Faith

Circus Slaves, The Show & Cutting The Music

Circus Slaves

Circus Slaves

Have you heard of circus slaves? It sounds odd, I know. But, it is a horrible and very real thing.
Imagine the music. The applause. The fanfare.


Children are led in, smiles taped on. A woman grips a rope with her teeth and spin herself around. An odd one, a short one and, perhaps, a misfit one, under age 10, contort themselves on stage. In India, they’re trapped. Perhaps, beaten. The rings, nor the stakes to perform, couldn’t be higher.

Deep calloused pain sits heavy for circus slaves.

The Show Goes On

I sat in megachurch, thinking, “Maybe the Pastor will notice me.” 
Maybe he’ll look over and say, “That one. I want to meet her. She’s something special.”

I tried extra hard, declaring, “The harder you work, the bigger you rise and the better the chance of going noticed and getting ahead.”

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I sat blogging,  praying, “If only (insert big name here) would help me. If I had her endorsement on my book that would mean everything. It would get my message where I only dreamed it could go.”

I sashayed as a child, planning, “I’ll sing. I’ll sing and dance. Surely they’ll see and adore me.”

Cutting the Music

There’s this pull for me to enter the grand tent of the circus–flying colors, flips and all.

Do you feel it too?

It’s an invitation to wow the crowds, to stand tall and to swing above the fray – up to the places where a platform is set just for you.

It’s the call to rise to greater heights. Do you know it?

It lures us with the thoughts like:  I have to meet certain numbers. I have to appease publishers. I have to be the best dressed mom. I have to drive that car. I have to do as good as that person.

It plays out in our lives like: Checking in on where others are. Keeping an eye focused on the crowds. Getting consumed with self-tactics. Filling yourself up with either pride or self defeat.

After many shows, a girl gets tired of the big show. She starts to see that the tent really is full of hot air and it always falls down at days end.

The floodlights nearly blind me with truth: When we look for man to see or save us, we miss how God does. We miss God all together. And, if Jesus isn’t there, what’s there — is slavery. 

“For freedom Christ has set us free;
stand firm therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
 Galatians 5:1

A girl stands there. A girl who realizes, “I am not performing, I’m just enslaving and depraving myself from God’s very best.”

She looks left and right and sees the others who are enslaved and depraved just like her. She sees ones trying and fighting, pining and clawing, hoping and dreaming to maybe be seen. Not all, but some, and her heart breaks for her fellow playmates who have been forced into hard labor, by themselves.

She calls out to them,
“Let’s sneak outta here. I know the secret for us circus slaves,
want to hear it? It is the words of Jesus. . .”

“But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests.” Luke 14:10

Take the lower seat.
Sit down.
Know Christ.
Let him recognize you.

When we sit with the other unseen and uncared for, we suddenly find that we are seen and cared for. We find that Jesus recognizes us, calls us friend and invites us to dine in his “best place.”

What could be better than that? It is called being freed to dine and delight in God. It is called your place to spin, sing, dance–a place where Christ sees and loves your every move made just for him.


Is Jesus inviting you there too?

Take the lower seat– that ends up being called the honored seat. It looks nothing like a flashy tent called slavery, because it is much more a heavenly seat called sitting right with Christ (Eph. 2:6).

Let’s go ladies, let’s go. Let’s go and remember it is not about how high we can rise, but really about how low we can go in service to Christ.

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Kelly, a fun-loving, active and spunky mom of two rambunctious toddlers, spends her days pushing swings, changing diapers and pursuing the Lord with all her heart. Called a "Cheerleader of Faith", Kelly's greatest desire is to help women live passionately, purposefully and unencumbered for the Lord.

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38 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I fell off the high wire last week Kelly! Luckily, God was there with a big net to catch my fall. The very second I take my eyes off of Him, the pressures of the circus infiltrate. What a great metaphor. I needed this affirmation today…and every day that follows, thank you!

  • Hi Kelly, it is tasking enough trying to meet many unattainable and some reasonable expectations we have for ourselves, adding the task and burden of running a performance show to earn an approval what a frustration!

    I am sitting still and quiet and allowing God lead me while I enjoy the process and learn what He needs me to learn. If “they” nod in approval well that’s a bonus if they don’t I am happy I am approved of the Lord.

    Phew!!! I like this post, friend.

      • When we look for man to see or save us, we miss how God does. We miss God all together.
        Wow! So true it HURTS! !
        I want to be free from my never-ending desire for a godly man in my life. It seems I take one step forward and 2 steps back most days. Sometimes I honestly feel like I have zero self control and/or don’t truly love the Lord. I KNOW I have trust issues. And in spite being so sick and tired of being single (again), I know He won’t give me that desire of my heart until and unless I submit to tearing down the idols I’ve put above Him. Thank you for a powerful post, Kelly!♡

  • This reminds me of Lysa TerKeurst’s talk (to launch the Best Yes) at She Speaks 2014. She said, “Be willing to do for one what you wish you could do for many.” So good to remember that Jesus has his eyes on us and he sets the boundaries for us. Oh, like Meg above, sometimes I get myself up on a high wire and then fall down. But I’m trying to grow in being faithful to the small tasks and ministry He gives me. Blessings on your ministry, Kelly.

  • Thank you Kelly for this reminder. I just wrote over the weekend of this same theme. Letting go of ourselves so we can put others first and honor others. I admit I fall into the trap of being bigger and better far too often. God is not impressed when we do that. I am going to join you to take the lower seat. Blessings!

    • God has to call me back to this truth over and over again. I praise him that he loves me so much for not letting my heart go astray. We are cared for so deeply Mary.

  • Kelly,
    You hit a struggle in my heart, today. It’s difficult not to compare and to let the achievements of other replace the instructions God gives solely to me. We live in a world of exact steps to achieve exact results, but listening to a calling just doesn’t work like that. At least, not for me. It’s one layer peeled back at a time.
    Thank you for your faithful, honest, words!
    Happy Tuesday!!

  • Kelly, I was just reading this morning about the quibbling disciples asking Jesus for the seat at His right hand. Wow. Now here you are with the same message. Thank you for this call to the hidden seat – which, if truth be told, is more likely closer to His right hand than the seat we have our eye on.

  • A tent full of hot air… I have to be honest and admit how much God keeps bringing me here to a place where He urges me to give everything over to Him and just be obedient and take the “lower seat”… to allow Him to connect with me without the pull of anything shallow or flashy.
    And each time I do, He fills me with everything I was needing, and more.
    Now to get this lesson into my thick noggin and heart 😉
    Thank you for being His reminder again, Kelly, thank you!

  • “Let’s go and remember it is not about how high we can rise, but really about how low we can go in service to Christ.” Thanks Kelly, and very well said. This is a much needed reminder this morning. Wishing you a blessed week!

  • Kelly, Beautiful truth! I’ve always called it dancing. Not the beautiful divine dance of gracefully following Jesus, but the frantic spinning and twirling I can do for the approval of others. It’s exhausting and far less than satisfying. Thanks for this great reminder that the way up God’s way is to simply follow Him and serve others with big love. Blessings to you!

  • Wow, circus slaves? What a scary thought! And even worse to think about how ‘perfect’ it looks from the outside:( Also, I love Luke 14:10… (Luke 14:11 is my blog’s theme verse!) Such a powerful truth, and something I talk about in my book as well. Great read today, sister!

  • Oh Kelly, so much truth here. This post speaks directly to my heart. Yet Jesus sets the table and invites us to come join him.

    May I meet Him at His altar bowing low versus blowing hot air into a tent for a (my!) platform.

    Hugs my sweet friend. FYI-we’re all cheering you on!

  • Kelly,
    Oh I just love the words from Luke 14:10 and the reminder from JESUS to take the lower seat. On occasion I have wondered “why Lord are those around me, even those I’ve coached and assisted now doing laps around me?” Take the lower seat and be seated closer to Jesus. YES! Freedom in this seat, not being a slave to the performance. Not having to cowtow and paint on the fake smile. This makes me think of the Japanese Kabuki theater, so much painted on covering up so much pain. Your grace words are milk and honey to the soul.

  • Oh WOW Kelly you reached into my heart with this post. At the end of the day the big tent is full of air and will deflate. I am so done striving and trying to appease people when all I really want to do is please my Father. When the big audience dissipates all that matters is that my audience of One has His eyes fixed on me 🙂

  • Kelly,
    This is so true: “When we look for man to see or save us, we miss how God does. We miss God all together. And, if Jesus isn’t there, what’s there — is slavery. ” And yet so often, I lose sight of God and I need to be reminded so often. Thanks!

  • Excellent post my friend. So similar to what God has been speaking to me about what truly matters. We’re studying in Matthew about the last being first and the first being last. Thank you for echoing this message, and pointing us to Him and His ways—so unlike our natural sinful tendencies. Celebrating His grace!

  • Enough performing. Like you, I’m ready to take the lower seat. And do you ever wonder why it’s such a battle? There’s much at stake. 😉 Loved this one, Kelly –> “Take the lower seat– that ends up being called the honored seat.” Interesting post today ~ a cheerleader in words.

  • Kelly, such a beautiful post. Yes, I’ve been a circus-slave; enslaved to the drive for significance, recognition, affirmation. What brings such great comfort is knowing that Jesus sees us, even when those around us don’t. He sees us and loves us and thinks we’re enough . . . simply because we’re His. When I realized this, I was able to take steps away from the circus-slave life. I still struggle some days, but the struggle is shorter now before I remember the truth: Jesus sees me, and loves me.

    Your post moved me today.

  • Great post, Kelly! We had an unpleasant experience at a church where we served, and at the end were left feeling unappreciated and taken for granted. We ended up church shopping last year, and it took us several months to find the right church. Once my family and I found this right church, we were terrified to join. We had lies fill our hearts that we would be hurt again, but it was hurting us not to serve. We joined the church this last Sunday, and we felt such a peace and knew it was God’s timing for us to serve again. Thanks for sharing this awesome post and for hosting 🙂

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