Fame vs. Faithfulness

The other day the Mister asked me whether or not I would ever want to be famous, and if so, what kind of famous? It struck me as an odd question, but it stuck with me and became a talking point between us over a couple of days. It was interesting what my immediate answer was: NO. An absolute no. I have no desire to be on tabloids, magazines, Entertainment Tonight, etc. Although I love blogging and sharing pieces of my life with family & friends, there is much that I leave off of the internet; I have a surprisingly high value for privacy. So naturally, the idea of it plastered on TV/Magazines/Gossipblogs makes me want to lock myself in a closet… forever.

BUT with that said, throughout the conversation I changed my mind and decided that yes, I wouldn’t mind being famous… but I would want to be famous for something significant and would prefer to show up in the NY Times rather than People magazine. I’d love to be a brilliant story teller or author (like J.K. Rowling, Steven King, Khaled Hosseini) or a successful social activist/entrepreneur (Blake Mycoskie of TOMS… ps. Did you see their new eyewear that just came out? LOVE it. ) or Condi Rice (because she’s awesome). So it’s not that I wouldn’t want to be famous, I’d just prefer to be someone you know in name or by their work, but you most likely wouldn’t recognize them immediately when passing them in a grocery store.

So the topic was pretty much benched until the Hubs and I went to visit my old church and heard my former pastor teach. It just so happens that he taught on the Role of Ambition in the Christian life. JD’s sermon was spot on (per the usual) and sent me on a little journey of introspection – hang in there… I don’t think I’ve fully processed this thought yet so yeah… but I want to get it out there.

An idea hit me one day this week while I was rereading my notes from Sunday... None of us are aiming at living the average, normal, healthy lives that most of us will live. So much of our generation is dreaming and “trying to make it big.” In essence, we’re trying to make names for ourselves, but we get frustrated from running on a hamster wheel seeking success. And what's worse is that we've condemned ourselves to it! I can count on my two hands & two feet the number of people I know who are in music – trying to make it big. Then there are the folks in the business world fighting to be project manager, and then director, then VP, and maybe one day CEO. The pastors who start churches, hoping it will explode and they can be preaching rock-stars (yeah you exist, don't fight it... I sat by a few of you in class). It’s funny, one of my friends just started a cookie business and it is exploding and my initial response is, “OMG, let’s find a cute warehouse, open a bakery, and I’ll contact TLC and you can have your own show.”

Seriously… that was my first thought. Ridiculous. But it’s true!

There are very few of us who really shoot for a simple faithful life: “Get a job doing what you love (or if you can’t find that, get a job that provides the necessities of life), commit to a local church, serve faithfully for YEARS, maybe get married, start a family, serve your children and spouse faithfully for years, bless your community by being available and intentional with your time and talents, stay in the same city & church for decades, live faithfully and then die.” That sounds boring in comparison to the great plans we have for ourselves!

What I’m amazed at is how we have belittled the family unit and the blessed joy that comes from a faithful life. We too often seek out our own fame, and usually to little avail! Just ask yourself this, “How many superstars do you actually know?” Seriously, if you and Tom Cruise are bff, you’ve got room to talk but the rest of us “normal” people can get so distracted achieving our own sense of fame in our own communities. Perhaps it is fame in your mini-social circle, or fame by a position at your job. Or maybe you really are waiting for that big break in the music/film/dance world. I think if we were all honest with ourselves, we could find the area in which we are striving to make ourselves a great name. For me, God has been stripping my desire away slowly to be “famous” in His good and perfect timing.

I had a slight obsession with politics when I was in high school. And by slight I mean that I adored Condi Rice and wanted to be her and Mother Teresa's love child (if that were possible). And thus I was plotting my political rise to Secretary of State with a twist of humanitarian glee. True story. And the desire to “be somebody” only grew over the years. Looking back now I can see that this is one of the many reasons why I was so heavily involved on campus in college. It is also part of the reason why I wanted to go overseas. I wanted a great adventure for myself! I had read too many Piper books and didn’t want to waste my life, but at the same time, I wanted to BE somebody. I wanted to DO something with my life.

These things aren’t necessarily bad, but when priorities and motives are off, they can become idols. JD said it this way, “It is how we respond when our goals/desires aren’t met that show us whether or not they’re either godly or selfish.”

And the Lord has been gracious in His rebuke.

Gently He has been teaching me repeatedly that my value is in Him and Him alone; I am called to live a faithful journey serving him, rather than a busy journey building a name for myself. JD graciously shared on Sunday something that I’ve never noticed in Philippians 4. When Paul says that he has learned to be content in all things… He says that he has LEARNED to be content… not that he IS content in all things. It is a characteristic that Paul had to learn and one that I have to learn as well.

So what does that look like for me? Does it mean I have to give up my dreams and sense of adventure? Heck no… God designed me to dream and gave me a love and curiosity for different cultures.

But it does mean that I must prioritize them appropriately. It means that I am learning to value my role as a wife and helper much more than I previously did. It means that I must learn to serve brothers and sisters joyfully without complaining and expecting gratitude or praise in return. It means that I am learning about the sovereignty of God and trusting in His goodness regardless of any circumstance (easier typed than done). I’m learning to remember exactly who I am in Christ, what I deserve, and what He saved me from. It isn’t always easy, but I feel like publicly admitting it is a good first step. :)

All that to say, I love a good adventure… but I am trying to learn to love the simple things in life that God has called me to. May it be said of me when I die that I loved my God, my family, and my church well, rather than a eulogy full of personal achievements.

Those are my thoughts this evening… Much love to you all.

Posted on June 8, 2011 and filed under Family, Ordinary Life, Spiritual Journey.