Monday, May 14, 2012

It's A Question of Worth


When I was quite young, my dad started the process of training me how to think. One of the perspectives he warned against was a fan mentality. As I got older, my brother helped me further understand what the motivation for fan-club thinking is and how it relates to the Christian's point of view.

I specifically remember an incident early in my development. After listening to an album of a new Christian artist, I expressed, "Oh, she is awesome! I love the way...” I went on to expound her attributes. After listening quietly for a while, my brother turned to me in his slow thoughtful way, scrunched up his nose and said, "Laura, you really don’t want to be a fan.” He went on to further explain what he meant. I didn't fully get it at that point. I struggled trying to figure out why he and dad were such fuddy-duddies and didn't want me to have the thrill of being in a fan-club! Everybody is a fan of somebody or something, I thought, that's just normal. But their admonition discouraged that way of thinking and made me ponder until I matured enough to understand what they were saying.

I began to watch my friends who weren't guided around this pitfall. As they matured, they started trying to imitate their heroes. Many of their stories (I could now tell) would break your heart. I'm so thankful my father and brother (and my mother as well, mostly by her beautiful example) had wisdom to help me see the error of this mindset.

Why do we humans have this insatiable desire to be a fan of someone or something? People become fans of musicians, sports teams, movie stars, authors, painters, preachers, missionaries, teachers, nature, areas of study, a particular school or organization...the list goes on and on. We try to connect ourselves to something we assess as more valuable than we feel we are. Many times we end up actually idolizing the object of our “fanatic devotion.”

Any of us can get caught here. The legalistic mindset I've been discussing lately plays into this pattern of thought to our detriment. We idolize some particular person with the thought that, "Well, C.S. Lewis, Elizabeth Elliott" (or whomever happens to appeal to us) "did" X, "and they are Godly people I highly admire, so I can too." This lethal line of thought will take us places we would never have dreamed we'd go.

It seems to me that this drive to be a fan is directly connected to our basic struggle for self-worth. It is one of the forces we feel because we live in bodies of flesh. So many behaviors can be traced back to the forces of the "flesh" as the Apostle Paul describes them. It’s hard when we’re surrounded constantly by a culture that is screaming, "You’re worth something if…you’re rich, or beautiful, or handsome, or thin, or sexy, or tall, or smart, or musical, or gifted" in one way or another. We can even fit one of those categories of "worthiness" and yet still find ourselves striving to connect with someone we perceive as "higher up." People will go to unbelievable measures to make those connections. They’ll drive miles to have their picture taken with someone they assess as more valuable. They’ll spend money (they don’t even have) to buy things that designate them as connected to their source of value. They’ll spend countless hours following after their source of worth. When you talk to them, they’re consumed with lauding their perceived source of significance.

In the midst of all the noise, Jesus stands quietly...in the shadows of the mind...asking, do you love ME? Do you trust ME? Does it matter more what your friends, your family, and the world think about you or what I think? Am I your source of value? Do thoughts of Me consume your mind? Do you find yourself trying to imitate my attributes? Are you a fan of Mine?

We’re worth something because Jesus Christ says we are. He lived and died to be our example and to bring us back into right relationship with the Father. He wants to share forever with us. He tells us that, contrary to the world’s message, we are of infinite worth and as we trust Him, we can be conformed into His image, seeking the will of the Father, loving others with His kind of love, not self-saturated with how we can allure the rest of the world to our flesh, not building our own fan-club or joining another's.
In reality, those we become fans of are not worth more than anyone else. We are fooling only ourselves if we think that connecting ourselves to other people truly gives us more worth. If those we are (in effect) idolizing are doing what they do for the right reasons, they don’t even want us to be fans. They will work to communicate and live in a way that we are not encouraged to be fans. Their goal is simply to please God. They want to accomplish His purposes in their life. They want to love and serve others as Jesus teaches. This spirit or attitude will permeate their life.

My prayer is that I will ever grow to be more like Jesus. I believe He knows what's best for me. I pray that I won’t ever drift into the mentality of becoming a fan of any person or object other than Christ Himself. May my worth be rooted and founded only in His opinion of me.

I'd like to go on record as being one of His fans. I'm certain Dad, Mom, and Big Brother won't object to that.


~originally posted in 2008; revised for this re-posting

6 comments:

  1. Laura,
    This post was so clear and concise. Wanted to repost one of the readers comments here. I found it very helpful from a ¨fresh¨perspective.

    AnonymousMay 14, 2012 9:52 PM
    I would be considered a casual observer of Facebook. As a friend of a friend I happened on this link and became interested in the many dissertations, disconnects and illogical mindsets. I am for the most part totally unfamiliar with the religious organizations mentioned in the post or comments, so anything I say is coming from a strictly non- religious point of view. I do believe in God , but have never thought about or read of His Character being anything like many of the commenters. That said I would like to address the issue in the original post. My first question would be "Did anyone that commented actually read the post". I searched and am still searching for the commenters to answer the question, "Is it worth it?" For all due respect, however you feel about an organizations rules or structure should not affect your answer to this question. This should be a simple yes or no answer. I make many decisions every day in my business and personal life and whether before the fact or after the fact, that very question, “Is it worth it” becomes a very important factor in determining my next course of action. I would be a fool to not have any concern as to whether a decision I was making was a viable one in light of future consequences. As a business professional and a member of several professional organizations, I carefully reviewed the "laws" of each before I joined and decided "it was worth it" although some of the restrictions and requirements, I did not necessarily deemed as being necessary or of any major importance. But the actual reasoning behind some of those restrictions, were put in place as safety nets or precautionary measures for future concerns. As a member I commit to abiding by the laws and rules of that organization. If at any time I decide the organization is no longer beneficial to me I do not renew my membership with them. How could it possibly make any sense for me to criticize, blame the organization for me “not liking their laws”, report to others how unfair they had been to me because they had a rule I didn’t like, or insist they had “ruined my life” just because “I wanted something my way”. Ms. Laura seems like a very caring individual and voicing her concerns and asking the question “Is it worth it” certainly did not interpret in mind to what is being purported by many of you. I say by seeing many of the angry attitudes, critical remarks and unsavory comments, this CHM organization is probably glad you have moved on.
    CEO

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  2. While I'm glad CEO commented, the most glaring difference between a professional organization and the CHM would be that a professional organization has clearly laid out rules and there are no clearly laid out rules for the CHM as an organization. In fact the rules change depending on who you ask, even among what most would see as the leaders. You'd have a hard time finding two people who would agree on exactly what the rules are or what they should be and there is no membership.

    Because CEO says they are unfamiliar with the CHM but they talked about a professional organization, maybe this comparison will help them understand why some people are so bothered by this discussion. Using your professional organization scenario - let's say you are a lawyer and you were a member of a law group or organization that had rules and regulations that you agreed to keep, written or unwritten. At some point in your life you decided that while you were going to continue to be a lawyer, you were no longer going to be part of the organization you had been a part of and therefore, you no longer felt it was necessary to abide by some of the rules you had been. However you had hoped to maintain the relationships with the individuals you had there. After you ended your membership in that law organization and you continued to practice law with a new organization you start hearing that the organization you had left was telling other law organizations and lawyers that you aren't really a lawyer, that since you left their organization they believe you have turned your back on everything you learned in law school and are therefore no longer capable of being a lawyer. Although you are still the same person and you still do your job as a lawyer the same way, there are those in your old organization, some who had been lifelong friends and even your own family members, who will now have nothing to do with you. They make it very clear that they have lost all confidence in your ability to be a lawyer and as far as they are concerned, you aren't a lawyer at all. That has been the experience with many of those who are commenting, there is a lot of hurt and pain that is hard for those who haven't experienced it to understand but that doesn't mean it isn't valid. We all have a choice as to how we are going to respond and not all responses are the right ones, but that doesn't make the pain and hurt that has been caused any less valid.

    The man who was being discussed in the first blog hasn't criticized, blamed the organization reported to other how unfair anyone is or anything else along those lines - he has remained graciously silent and is not part of the discussion.

    I hope CEO will read all of the comments under all of the blogs because several people DID answer the question "Is it Worth it."

    I also would hope that the CHM would never be glad someone has moved on, for if that is the case, then we are in worse shape than some say we are.

    To all of those who have been following along, now that "Loy" has been asked not to comment any further and has been blocked, he did as Curt asked and is writing on his own blog www.loymershimer.blogspot.com

    While not agreeing with everything he said, this reader did feel that the spirit in which he wrote was kind and it was troubling to see how things ended.

    In the CHM

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  3. Hmmm...I haven't visited lately due to a hectic schedule. Can it be true that Loy has been asked not to comment? I found his responses to be gentlemanly and full of food for thought.
    It has seemed to me that there has been more obfuscation than clarification in this discussion. We must answer these hard questions or at least begin to grapple with them, rather than cut off the questioner. I am disappointed also!

    In the CHM too

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  4. I'm off to Loy's Blog where commentators that get a little too close to the truth are not blocked. I am extremely disappointed in a lady who I thought was open minded & willing to see both sides. Sorry, I ever stopped by

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    1. I think I just got "dis-fellowshipped" by someone who doesn't believe in "dis-fellowshipping."

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  5. I don't think so Laura, I am very much in the fellowship of CHM...but I am ashamed of the unChristlike manner that you have blocked a fellow believer from your blog. Now if you want to talk about disfellowshipping...throw the first stone

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