He Must Increase; I Must Decrease

“He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30).

What if my life is meant to be smaller, quieter, and slower? What if God wants me to want less?

We live in a world that lusts for more. More attention, popularity, money, power, success, likes, shares, wins, and fame.

We don’t talk about decrease.

Yet reflect on sacrifices you have made. Times when you stepped back, stepped away, or stepped out of the spotlight. Moments when more came from less.

In marriage I had to decrease (my self-centeredness and my desire for independence) so that love could increase. In pregnancy I had to decrease (my activity and my desire for control) so that life could increase. In work I have to decrease (my ego and my desire for success) so that community can increase.

But I bet I’m not alone in cringing every time I read these words: “He must increase; I must decrease.”

We fixate on the second phrase: our sin and selfishness, all that we know we must whittle away. Ambition or affirmation, comfort or ease, friends or followers, money or beauty, certainty or safety—whatever we desire that keeps us from God.

Still our stomachs sink. Decreasing is daunting. We don’t want to do it; we shrink from the prospect.

But we forget the promise of the first phrase: God will increase.

Think about the fullness of this flourishing. Picture the fruits of the Spirit’s growing presence: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:25-26).

We do not decrease for the sake of decrease, a pruning without growth. We decrease for the increase that God is itching to grow through us, waiting to blossom into our lives.

The trajectory of the Christian life is not toward self, but God. Yet what joy this decrease brings, increasing all the fruits of the Spirit!

Trust the promise of increase. As you decrease—your desires, your selfishness, your lunging after success or lusting after praise—God will grow into the spaces you have cut back.

Abundance awaits. Step back and slow down. God is waiting to grow in you.

Abundance awaits. Step back and slow down. God is waiting to grow in you. Click To Tweet

If you’re up for it, sister, pray the Litany of Humility with regularity. See what pruning God has in store for you.

Laura Kelly Fanucci is a mother, writer, and director of a theological project on vocation. She and her husband are raising four sons and wrote a book together on grieving the loss of children, “Grieving Together: A Couple’s Journey through Miscarriage.” She is the author of seven books including “Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting” and “Living Your Discipleship: 7 Ways to Express Your Deepest Calling.” You can find out more about her here. She is the author of the Blessed Conversations Mystery: Behold study found here.


  • Reply
    January 12, 2019 at 8:17 am

    Thank you.This touch my heart and really need to hear this. Praise to the Holy Spirit and may He continue to bless you with understanding.

  • Reply
    January 12, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Such a beautiful reflection. Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2019 at 9:51 am

    Love, Love, Love!
    Just yesterday I was torn about something that was happening at work with a colleague. I asked God to help me with my feelings because I was so conflicted. And his answer is that “abundance awaits”. Thank you!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Just what I needed for the season I am in right now! Beautifully said and deeply touching! And oh my goodness, the Litany of Humility, is so powerful. Thank you!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2019 at 10:34 am

    🙏Amen sisters!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2019 at 10:40 am

    I was JUST asking God yesterday to help me become a more humble servant of His. And then this is the message today. Sometimes it’s scary how quickly she responds!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    Once again Laura, you hit the nail right on the head! I have been praying and pondering this topic for a little while now and this fit perfectly into my prayer! Thank you for your beautiful words😊❤️

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