“Is Fame that important?”
~ And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. ~
(1 Thessalonians 4: 11-12)
How often do we look at the lives of celebrities and wished we had what they have: money, expensive house and cars, fame and friends? Movie stars, business people and politicians all seem to have every advantage in world. The desire to be famous and recognized by people around us affects almost all of us no matter how old we are. Think about how many friends you have on Facebook? Do you really converse with all of them regularly? Likely not…so why do you give them access to your information, pictures and personal thoughts? I would argue that this is partly due to our desire to be recognized…in a sense create our own fame.
The desire to be famous was underscored for me during my “daddy – daughter” time this weekend. Having finished some errands, Sophie and I were travelling to our favourite breakfast place, when Sophie piped up from the backseat, “Daddy, can I tell you something? When I grow up I want to be famous.” “Oh,” I replied, “why do you want to be famous?” With a quite serious tone Sophie replied, “That way everyone will love me and be my friend.” I certainly wasn’t prepared for that kind of response from my six year old daughter so I decided to probe a bit more. “Is it more important to have a few good friends who know you really well or a lot of friends who just know you a little bit?” Silence. “I think a few good friends is best,” was her reply. She continued, “If you have too many friends, a lot of people look up to you so, you need to set a good example all the time. I think I confused the word friend with fan.” Out of the mouth of babes!
Seldom do we hear of celebrities living a quiet life minding their own business; they are living life large and loud. Paul, in his letter to the church in Thessalonica, addresses the issue of fame by talking about living a life that is pleasing to God. Rather than making our life’s ambition to be in the “limelight” focused on ourselves, Paul instructs us to live a quiet life, minding our own business and doing our own work…the simple life. How true that is! When life gets hectic, don’t we crave simplicity? How often do we see in the media a celebrity who has fallen from grace because of infidelity, drug use or some other scandal? Living a life focused on bringing praise to God instead of ourselves reduces the negative impacts of a worldly life. It shows those around us that we are living with a different purpose in life and that we are not dependent on the opinions of others. Christ, who had every reason to be the center of the world’s attention, chose to live a humble, simple life. He wasn’t focused on bringing fame to His name for his sake alone. Through His actions, Jesus drew people’s attention to God, demonstrating that He should be the focus of our lives.
Recognition and fame are definitely areas with which I struggle. How often do I desire people to know what I have accomplished? Far too often! Sophie’s comments have caused me to reflect on this more intentionally. When asked about what was better, a few good friends or lots of people that know you, Sophie chose the right path, the simple way. When the spotlight comes my way, I need to consider why? For whose end? For what purpose? Am I bringing praise to my heavenly Father in my through my actions or praise to myself?