Remaining Faithful in the Face of Fame
One of the greatest challenges in Hollywood is remaining faithful in the face of fame. In an industry built on ego, massive PR campaigns, and billions of dollars, even the humblest among us can be tempted to believe the great press we get. At the heart of it, there will always be tension: your faith leads you toward humility, while your success leads you toward grandiosity and pride. The Lord is rejoicing with you over your success, while also calling you to keep your identity anchored in His love for you. This will help you to maintain your sanity and your stability amidst the ups and downs of fame.
Honesty About Fame
“I’m glad I didn’t’ find fame in my early 20’s,” an actor told me recently. He realized that he wasn’t mature enough to handle it, and probably would have crashed and burned like so many people do. If only more people had this level of honesty and humility. He realized that fame is like any other kind of power – It uncovers what is already in our hearts. It can be intoxicating, as well as dangerous. If we believe God’s Word, we know that we are all sinners and all prone to sin. Yet most of us are not tempted by some sins right now simply because we lack the resources, time or money. We also may not be tempted because we have friends and family who keep us grounded and will tell us when we are doing something foolish or sinful.
Grace for the Famous
Imagine what would happen if you took your average 18 year old and gave them 100 million dollars to spend. Then surround them with people who only want to hang around them and to ride along for the fun, never loving them enough to call them out on foolish or sinful behaviors. I don’t think any sane adult would expect that 18-year-old to avoid making quite a few bad decisions. This is temptation on a level few of us face. It is a good reason to have some grace for young celebrities when they seem to go off the rails. Fame only accentuates our insecurities, addictive tendencies and enables the pursuit of our desires without restraint. This is why instant fame, or instant wealth (lottery, movie deal, trust fund) can be so devastating and unhealthy. As Maya Angelou wrote, “If a little learning is dangerous, a little fame can be devastating.”
Principles To Remember When Fame Comes:
1) Cultivate Humility
Having lived in New York and Los Angeles, ministering to creatives, my wife and I have had the blessing of knowing many friends who have an Emmy, Grammy, Telly, Oscar, or some other award. It is wonderful to celebrate these great achievements, but it is healthy to also acknowledge that those awards do not define you. People with a healthy perspective on what the award really means in light of eternity, will often have these awards in funny places. Some have it in the bathroom, some if the garage, and others have literally forgotten where they put it.
For some of us, it is natural to avoid believing the hype, and for some of us it is hard. A healthy way to avoid attaching your heart to those awards, is to keep attaching your heart to the one who died for you on the cross. He loves you more than any critic or fan, and His love is the only love that redeems and promises us eternal life. Paul reminds us also to take our gaze off of ourselves so that we may care about those around us,
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4
2) Pursue Excellence
Our goal is excellence, not fame. God has gifted you for a reason, and wants you to develop that gift, putting your whole heart into what you create. King David refused to do things in a half-hearted fashion. He made this clear by stating, “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (2 Sam 24:24)
Our commitment to honor God in all of life compels us to follow David’s example. If we are going to take the talents, time and treasures given to us by God, and develop them, then we should do it with our whole heart. The good news is that our hard work focused on excellence brings promise. Solomon offered encouraging words for those who become excellent at their craft.
Do you see a man skillful in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before obscure men. – Proverbs 22:29 (ESV )
The Bible encourages us to pursue excellence, not fame. We don’t do this because God will love us more. We also shouldn’t do it simply to become famous. We do it to rejoice in the gifts He has given us and to glorify the God who gave us the gifts.
3) Pursue Faithfulness
Regardless of your success, your primary goal is to remain faithful. Temptations to compromise will show up over and over. Beware, and keep your focus on God, rather than your level of success. Let God handle the amount of recognition you receive. Do your best and be wise, but always put ‘faithfulness’ above the desire for ‘fame’. As we read in Hebrews, the mark of health is contentment in what you have.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
– Hebrews 13: 5-6
4) Curate Your Influence
Don’t waste your influence. While it is important to be humble about your accomplishments, we must remember that humility is not looking down on yourself or your accomplishments. Humility is being honest about who you are. It is important to resist over-inflating your sense of self-worth, but it is also important to resist downplaying your accomplishments.
As you become comfortable acknowledging your talents and accomplishments, you can focus on how to love others through your status and your gifts. You have limited resources and influence, so use it wisely. We work for more than a living, an award, or a paycheck. We have the privilege of working for the Lord. It is His glory we ultimately seek. As Paul wrote in Colossians,
“23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)
If you want to explore more about this, check out our video talking about how to Love your Audience.
As we embark on the award season this year, rejoice over your accomplishments. Thank God for your opportunities, your talents and the recognition you have received. It is good to celebrate and rejoice. Remember, Jesus’ first miracle was to turn the water into wine and bring joy to the wedding party. Just remember you are His! Far beyond the joy of this moment is the joy of being chosen, loved and adopted into God’s family. Then, as the awards season dies down, your identity will remain anchored in the one thing you can trust completely -God’s love for you.
Now let us know in the comments below where you keep your awards. Do you have an interesting place where you display them? How do you keep perspective when you finally get recognized for your hard work and talent?
Copyright © 2022 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.