When I was a kid I would sometimes fantasize about being famous or a hero. Maybe everyone does. As I became an adult, that desire shifted from being a crime fighter or sports star to being a famous intellectual, a professor somewhere. I distinctly remember a conversation with my friend Geoff. We mused that it would be cool if we could succeed the two more famous professors at our bible college. While we were thinking about future possibilities, I’m sure we were also driven by the desire to be somebody.
Fast forward to this past week. My colleague Bryan and I were sitting on his Opryland Hotel balcony and musing about the years we had been coming to the AACC World Conference, our years of presenting there and at other conferences, and how our feelings about presenting had changed. We both began presenting at conferences while at Wheaton College in the PsyD program. We both had aspirations to teach grad students. We both had looked up to a few we thought we would like to emulate. And, we both thought about books we might write one day. Some of the “highs” we experienced were,
- Getting our paper presentation proposals accepted at CAPS and AACC
- Getting fairly large crowds to come to these paper presentations
- Getting published in a peer-reviewed journal
- Getting academic jobs…moving up the ranks
- Publishing a book (Bryan, not me)
In the early days when we first presented (as grad students) we found the cheapest ways to get to conferences and stayed in a pretty seedy motel a long walk away from the conference location. But on the balcony of a very nice hotel room, we both felt a bit melancholy and completely unimpressed with ourselves and our former aspirations. These things did not matter and were of little value. Bryan would undoubtedly trade all prior aspirations to have his wife back (she died a little over a year ago).
In many ways, we received some of the recognition we once desired: both had our ways paid to the conference and hotels comped because of our higher level work (pre-conference speakers, track leader). I even got 2 minutes to speak to the entire conference attendees.
Big deal…in light of far more important matters. 1 John 2:15-17 reminds us,
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (NIV)
Fame is elusive, transitory, and dangerous to pursue. The desire for limelight will lead to decisions that will not honor God or benefit anyone but self. May those of us who want to be a somebody be reminded daily that the Kingdom of God is for the meek and lowly of this world. Fame here translates to nothing in heaven. Rather, our hunger must be for righteousness not fame.
So, when does fame lose lustre? When we are able to see greater things of value.