NEW CASTLE —
“You made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” — Augustine
Sang like an angel.
Partied like the devil.
And, from what we can surmise, died like Elvis, Morrison, Joplin, Hendrix and Jackson before her.
I have no clue. But here’s what I’ve seen in my lifetime, and I’m sure you’ve noticed, too: There’s got to be something about the mix of talent, fame, money and fan adulation that smothers even the strongest among us under their immense weight.
There is. It’s not supposed to be that way.
And that’s the lesson we all must learn from yet another tragic death of a celebrity.
Let me explain.
Before I start, though, I’ll warn you that I’m going to be preaching to the choir on this one. But even if you’re not among the 85 percent of Americans who call themselves Christian, stay with me anyway. This blog won’t be for everyone, but I hope you’ll mine a few nuggets as well.
Here goes ...
•We were created to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7) — Whitney’s voice, Michael’s moonwalk, Jordan’s jumping ability, Tebow’s toughness, Pujols’ power ... all for Him. You and I live here, so we’re free to enjoy their gifts, too, but things go bad when we begin to worship fellow human beings.
When we elevate people, they naturally fall. Gravity is funny that way. (Be careful, Jeremy Lin.)
Their gifts are meant to point us to the One who gives, the Creator who made them. We are all mere shadows of a Bright Shining Light. A glimpse of Eternity.
Yes, I said you and me. We, too, have talents that can change the world in some way. But too often, we lose focus and start to believe we have them to change our situation.
Instead of basking in the glow of doing, we become more concerned with the end result. What will people think of us? What will people say about us? How much money can I earn? How many awards can I win? Will anyone notice?
Soon after, that becomes why we do what we do.
Money. Fame. Awards. Fans. Approval.
What happens when they go away?
Worse yet, what happens when we have all those things and still feel like a fraud?
A few years ago, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady shared as much when he was interviewed on “60 Minutes.”
“Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me?” Brady asked. “I think, God, there’s gotta be more than this.”
But we need to transform our minds and think differently about why we sing, why we play, why we write, or fix, or teach, or sell.
Rick Warren nailed it about a decade ago with the first four words of his worldwide best-seller, “The Purpose Driven Life.”
“It’s not about you.”
It’s not about me, either.
“All men seek happiness. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.” — Pascal
•Be content with the gifts you’ve been given (Luke 1:46-49) — Research shows that anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of college graduates fail to pursue careers in their fields of study. In other words, we fail to pursue our passions for a bigger paycheck, or a better reputation or ... you fill in the blank.
I hear the talk all the time and I laugh. Doctors are smart. Engineers are smart. Lawyers are smart. And the rest of us just fall in line somewhere.
Don’t believe it. You are a genius at what you do. And no one can do it exactly the way you can.
So do what you love and love what you do. Don’t toss away the gift. Don’t believe the lies.
You and I were created for a purpose and with a purpose.
Nurture your talents. Develop your talents. Outwork your talents.
Let your talents shine and “play present.”
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure,” Olympic athlete Eric Liddell said in “Chariots of Fire.”
Notice Liddell said “run” and not “win” or “earn a gold medal.” So, based on his statement, can we feel His pleasure if we lose? Or fall?
Absolutely. But when those things happen, we start looking around for better options. Maybe a new coach, or a new career, or a new car ... or a new life.
Based, of course, on trying to fulfill other people’s expectations and desires.
When we live for approval, security, or a future rooted in something that can go away tomorrow, that’s when we ask ourselves the same question Tom Brady asked: “Is this it?”
Sadly, for even some of the most talented people who have graced our planet, it is.
So today, when that question pops into your head, stop listening to yourself. Instead, remind yourself of these three things:
•You are loved (John 3:16)
•You are gifted (1 Corinthians 12:7)
•And you have the capacity to impact the world (Matthew 5:16).
Just don’t do it for my benefit. Or my applause. Or my money.
Someday, I might not be interested in your work anymore.
But don’t take it personally.
It’s not about you.
And it never was.
(CLICK HERE if you haven’t heard Whitney Houston’s isolated vocal track on “How Will I Know?”)