As humans, we’re always looking to others for a variety of things such as mentoring, measuring our own lives and examples of how things are done. Sadly, we often look at the position others have without seeing the impact they leave behind. Especially those of us who spent a big part of our formative years without a solid role model in our daily lives.
For a considerable amount of my life, I was lacking in direct role models, so I looked to the same places far too many young people do: celebrities. I admired professional football players, idolized professional musicians, dreamed of being wealthy like many in the public eye and desired the fame they had.
Why is that? What good can fame and fortune really do? Sure, the people I admired from a distance seemed to have great lives, carefree and unburdened by the worries that weighed me down. But, I was too naïve to really look at what sort of shadow they cast and how that was a true reflection of where their lives were.
Many of these ‘idols’ seemed to be worthy of envy, with fancy cars, big houses and never a fear about where their next meal would come from. However, a lot of them aren’t doing anything that carries a truly positive impact on the world around them. In fact, if you really look deep enough, many of them are behaving in a satanic manner, that is, doing things that lead people away from Christ and toward the things of this world.
Getting rich and famous is hardly a be-all, end-all for life. How do I know this, since I’m far from either in a worldly sense? Just dig into the lives many of these celebrities lead and you’ll see for yourself: broken homes, addictions, spiritual emptiness, devotion to money and all that it brings. That’s certainly not something worth envying.
Over the last many years, I’ve realized this, especially in the last few where my family went from being “rich” by worldly standards to living just above the poverty line in a matter of a year. In that time, I not only realized my priorities had been wrong for a long, long time, but I also discovered a lot of it had to do with where I let my vision fall.
Now, I look to men such as Max Lucado, Mark Driscoll, Greg Rohlinger, Craig Groeshel as my new “celebrities”. Each of these men has achieved a level of fame and fortune, but in Not Of This World terms, instead of what I used to quantify as success.
Each of these men casts a shadow that leaves behind uplifted souls. Each of these men is doing something to fulfill Billy Graham’s great quote that I’ll paraphrase here “My job is to get to Heaven and bring as many people with me as possible!”
One of my big turning points occurred when I saw a very famous ex-football player give a tour of his house on the NFL Network. When they got to his closet, he revealed over 1900 custom-tailored suits that cost in excess of $1000 each. He stored these suits in a two-story closet that was roughly 2500 square feet in size. Instead of feeling envy at this man’s fame and fortune, I immediately felt revulsion inside. Imagine what he could do with $1.9 million dollars for God’s Kingdom. That’s game changing money… but instead, he benched it and let it go to the evil one.
While the player does boast of having great faith, I see a camel and the eye of a needle in his future. Hopefully, I’m wrong.
Thankfully, I learned God’s lessons about money before I hit the eye of that needle. Although I have the ability and potential to back slide at any moment, so, I need to keep focusing on the Godly role models I have now, such as my Father-in-law, my mentor and the men I mentioned above.
This brings me to the question of how I’m living. Since we all have the ability to be someone’s role model, what shadow am I casting? The kind that says “Life is all about getting rich and living like a King here on Earth” or the kind that says “I need to get to Heaven and bring as many people with me as possible”?
I’m very appreciative that God humbled me and has shown me the former is no way to live and the latter is far more rewarding than anything I could store in my closet, no matter how much I spend. But, I know if I fail to remember that, I’m only a few steps from the edge at any given moment. So, please say a prayer that I continue to grow spiritually, continue to learn only from those walking towards God and always cast a shadow that shows my son where his priorities should fall, not in this world, but in the next.