Oddly enough, fame is one of my biggest idols. Supposedly, when I was a kid, I told my mom I wanted to be famous when I grew up. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t think that desire has ever gone away. There’s a large part of me that’s motivated by fame and recognition.
This is a constant uphill battle for me because even though I want to be active in my church and organizations, I’m very aware of the fact that some of the desire to be active may just come from a desire to be recognized. I know that, when it comes to serving God, our motives are rarely completely pure but that doesn’t make me feel better about things.
The thing about fame is that it’s not just about being recognized, it’s about being celebrated (that’s why we call them celebrities). But that’s not what life is about. At least not the life of a Christian.
I try not to beat myself up because of these desires. It’s not a really effective technique for dealing with an issue. Plus, these broken areas of our lives reveal the most about ourselves and about how we relate to God. They also sometimes reveal how God wants to use us. An ascetic, legalistic Christianity denies the existence of problems or tries to get rid of them as soon as they appear. But, I think, to be more like Christ, we have to be better at being human. We have to be better at experiencing and recognizing brokenness. We have to be better at allowing ourselves to feel a whole range of emotions. We have to be better at seeing the areas in our lives that need work and praying earnestly for change.
The director of PFA shared his testimony at noon prayer once. He talked about a few things but one of the things he focused on was his problem with control. He said he liked to be in charge of things and control them, and not always in a good way. Still the recurring theme of his life was leadership and, by extension, control. God took his deviant idea of what leadership was and transformed it into what leadership should look like. He’s not a perfect leader and I’m sure he still struggles with control but God is using him in spite of that.
I’m not saying I think God’s gonna make me famous. I don’t think it’s impossible but I have yet to receive any evidence that this will be the case. Still, those underlying things behind fame -recognition, celebration, and adoration – I think God can do some work on me in those fields. And I think he can use me in spite of those things. Because that’s what God has always done. He used Paul’s zeal in persecuting Christians and transformed it into a zeal for spreading the Gospel. He used Joseph’s esteem in the eyes of his father and transferred it into esteem in the eyes of Pharoah.
God uses our flaws. That’s one of the coolest things about the Gospel. If we forget that then Christianity becomes just another boring, ritualistic religion. But God doesn’t want religion. He wants relationship and all the messiness that entails.