Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Who do you look up to?

My mother has a saying that she learned from her father- "if you lay down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas."  Surely, those we admire are those we tend to emulate.  For Christians, the ultimate role model is Christ; however, the intent of this article is to touch beyond the "churchspeak" answer.

I was in the gym yesterday lifting weights as the radio played in the background.  In between recordings of what some like to call "music", the hosts would discuss the latest in celebrity relationships and breakups.  My mind moved to the recent drama in the news over the termination of a 72-day marriage between "starlet" Kim Kardashian and NBA forward Kris Humphries.  Beyond the fact that I know marriage to be a sacred institution that demands our lifelong devotion, I was disturbed by the fact that Kardashian is famous, for the same reason as Paris Hilton, for being the star of a leaked sex tape.

The divorce wouldn't be news, nor would any celebrity relationships, if there wasn't money involved in reporting it.  Do you think I care that Jennifer Aniston is having a baby?  No, but many people are more concerned about Hollywood happenings than they are in nurturing their own families.  "What's in it for me?" is the same attitude that keeps crooked elected officials voting for godless ideas and funding for destructive programs listed under the guise of social justice.

When I was younger, I collected autographs of baseball players.  I love baseball with all of my heart and over the years have come to admire many players, both for their skill on the field and for their contributions off of it.  As a collector, I was serious.  I could recognize players in street clothes and I would often mail off, with success, for signatures.  In the collecting community, Mike Marshall was notorious for being a tough sign.  Marshall, who pitched for 14 years and won the National League Cy Young Award (best pitcher in league) in 1974, was a good but unspectacular player.  He has indicated that he has no intention of being part of the memorabilia industry; this is understandable, as many collectors will have small children get multiple items signed by a star player, only to put them all on eBay later that day.  Instead, Marshall says that people, if they want to collect signatures, should collect them from people that positively influence their lives: parents, teachers, firemen, policemen, the list goes on.

While I certainly have no issues with legitimate collectors, I see Marshall's point.  Many times in life, we idolize those who do nothing to edify others.  Sports is one thing, but I don't understand the fascination with the celebrity world.  The influence of Hollywood in our culture is one of the saddest things I've seen.  Its impact is so great that Joseph Stalin said he could control the world if he could control Hollywood.  When a movie like Courageous, produced by a Georgia church, comes out with its challenge to husbands and fathers and blows away Hollywood giant-budget films, it offers hope for real change that can occur in our country.

So who do you admire?  Do you fill your time surfing around like a busybody, waiting to see what Lady Gaga is doing to advance the latest push for tolerance and acceptance of destructive principles in our society?  Instead, there are many things we can lift our eyes to.  The world consumes celebrity news because they are looking to be fulfilled by the "utopian" lives of others, even though those very lives, even flushed with millions of dollars, are likely among the most hollow and empty on the continent.  Be fulfilled in what is good.

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."  Philippians 4:8

Never underestimate the power of looking to what is positive.  Half of all marriages in end divorce today.  The figures are nearly identical even among Christians.  Do you think that the influence of the entertainment industry in our lives has anything to do with it?  Absolutely.  If whom we admire runs from partner to partner (I'm looking at you, Brad Pitt), then why can't we?  If Lindsey Lohan can live a life of luxury and simultaneously be a drug addict, why can't young girls do the same?

When I was seven years old, I was placed into the second grade class of who was thought to be one of the strictest teachers in school.  I grew so fond of this teacher that I requested her again later in elementary school and was placed in her class.  I still stay in touch with her and recently thanked her for the impact she had in my life at a young age.  Even though I grew up in a home that was encouraging, she was never reluctant to share with our class the importance of selflessness, be it in the military or in our own lives, patriotism, choosing hard rights over easy wrongs, and settling disputes.  These are the types of people that Mike Marshall was referring to.

For application, remember your first priorities.  They are God, family, country, career, in that order.  The first commandment states that we are to have no other gods before God.  Note the lowercase "g".  The Lord wasn't referring only to Buddha, but to the gods of busy-ness, entertainment, sports, careers, even your own family.  Devotion to his principles makes straight our path.  Likewise, I trust that a return to Godly principles will again set straight the path for this nation.

"That person (who follows the law of the Lord) is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers." Psalm 1:3

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Beyond faith, our families are our earthly source of strength.  A strong marriage is a safe haven for the weary.  My wife loves me whether I sink or swim.  Where families are built strong and built to last, there is hope and there is success for a nation.  I will talk more about the importance of a strong nation in future posts.

Finally, your attitude in doing your work and the degree of excellence you demand of yourself influences others around you.  Go to any underperforming section of nearly any workplace and you will find defeated attitudes and disgruntled workers.  Consider that which is excellent- always own up to your shortcomings and when you pledge your undivided attention and dedication, mean it.  I will sign off with the video below.  After this speech (which came after a deflating and unexpected loss), the 2008 Florida Gators went on to win nine straight football games and the national championship.  Behold the power of surrounding yourself with positive teammates and role models.


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