Today's post title probably comes across a bit harsh. I'm sorry about that. I just really couldn't find a better way to put it. For years I have watched as friend after friend chase the dream of being famous. Becoming somebody. Having lots of "fans" or "followers." Making lots of money. Whatever the end result, it seems that more is never enough. It's a bug that has hit our society hard. But more than ever before, it has hit Christians.
photo by Dustin Beno
The fame bug.
I caught it when I was about eight years old. I grew up singing in church, specifically children's choir. It was at this age that I had my first solo in one of the productions. It was the first verse of "Jesus Paid it All." One verse is all it took. Someone came up to me afterwards and said, "They should have let you hold on to that mic longer!" What they probably meant as a small word of encouragement to a young, timid girl, were the words that began feeding the bug.
And let me tell you, that bug grew a hefty size.
I went on to receive lead roles in several productions, year after year, until I graduated from children's choir. And suddenly I found myself in bigger venues - festivals, talent shows, sporting events, really anywhere I could. And there was always someone, somewhere coming up to me at the end to feed the bug.
"You should go on American Idol!" "You should move to Nashville!" "Why haven't you been discovered yet?!"
These words planted deep within my heart and I started to believe them.
Starving the bug.
While I wrestled with the bug feeders and their many words of "encouragement," I spent much time in prayer asking God what exactly He wanted me to do.
I had just turned sixteen years old and had the opportunity to audition for American Idol. Yet, the more time I spent praying and reading God's word, the more I realized that the "American Idol" dream was not the dream God had for me. So I turned down the opportunity, much to my parent's and everyone else's dismay.
In that decision, I felt so much peace. I had stopped feeding the bug.
A new appetite.
From that point on, I became hungry. That nasty, little bug had eaten away at so many parts of my soul, I was literally starving spiritually. I began feeding myself with God's truth.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." - Matthew 6:33
"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ." - Philippians 3:7
"So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last." - Matthew 20:16
"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." - Colossians 3:2
It became obvious to me that seeking anything temporary, like fame, was simply going to distract me from my calling as a believer to make disciples.
Now, let me be clear. This choice wasn't always obvious for me. It was difficult, it was confusing, and a few times I had myself convinced that I could do more for the kingdom if I was "famous." Because that's what I was told - if only my "platform" was larger, I could reach more people.
But I had a problem with that statement.
Because, what exactly would I be doing to reach these people? You know, other than sing for them?
I'm not denying the power of God to minister to someone through music. Trust me, if anyone is a believer, I am. But what I don't believe, is that God uses music to make disciples. And while I'm at it, I don't believe he uses movies, or photography, or poetry or inspirational speeches either.
In fact, there is nothing in our power that can save people. No gift will make you a better disciple-maker. No platform will give you more opportunities to be a disciple-maker.
The only thing that will make you a disciple-maker, is being a disciple.
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”- Matthew 28:19-20
Jesus didn't leave his disciples asking them to go become better fisherman, or better tax-collectors, or whatever else they were doing before they followed Him. He asked them to make disciples and teach them the things He had commanded of them. To love better, to give more, to be His hands and His feet.
Sometimes this does lead to fame. And just by being obedient to what God has called us to do, we begin to see our platforms increase. But we're not all called to be Billy Grahams and Tim Tebows. In fact, I think very few of us are. And if we are, it will not come at the expense of our families or our own spiritual growth.
And it definitely won't come at the expense of making disciples.
If you want to become famous for something, it's about time Christians "caught the bug" to become famous for that.