Going Down in the Flames of Fame
This post will explain why that is so.
I first started sharing the insight below in front of college audiences years ago. And when I did, I would cite a few examples of young famous people gone “freak show.” Then I would express my concern that Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus would likely follow the same pattern.
Believe it or don’t, it seemed irrational to many back when I said it.
I’m not clairvoyant. Just a connector-of-dots.
That said, I hope you read this post before you’re the next victim, because according to a recent survey by Barna, 26% of teens expect to be famous by age 25.
Did you catch that? Not hope to be famous. Expect to be famous. By age 25 even!
That’s a LOT of famous people.
That’s also a LOT of people in line for intimacy impostor #5: FAME.
What’s wrong with fame?
What’s wrong with fame – or more accurately, what’s dangerous about it – is this:
What fame promises and what it actually delivers are two very different things
And it is the disillusionment that takes place when the famous person runs into this reality (especially when that person is young), that leads so many down the path of self-destruction.
The Fame Fallacy
Well, the story goes that Satan runs around promising fame and fortune in exchange for people’s souls.
In reality, our enemy is more cunning than that.
Knowing few would make such a bold bargain, he’ll come from the angle of our legitimate needs, like, say for instance, our need for intimacy; our heart’s cry to know and be known for who we truly are.
He understands this deep yearning, and so he says, “You need to be known. Indeed. You need to be known by MILLIONS!”
Doesn’t it sound wonderful? If some people knowing you feels bueno, then millions of people knowing you must feel muy muy muy bueno.
Only, here’s the reality: you can’t be known by millions.
Information and Idolatry
Millions of people may believe they know famous people. Some will even watch every show, download every single, and read every story about their favorite star.
But that’s not intimacy. That’s information.
To enjoy intimacy with someone requires engaging with them directly in conversation. It involves spending time with them. (Watching, listening to or reading about them doesn’t count. And neither does meeting them briefly after a show or game.) When you share an intimate relationship with someone, you don’t just know who their best friends are or who they’re dating – by name. You know who their best friends are and who they’re dating – personally.
But the media is so persuasive, it can make us feel like we’re best friends with these people. And when you consider how we feel about our favorite performer or athlete, who wouldn’t want millions to share the same feelings about us?
But this isn’t intimacy either. This is idolatry.
Faithfulness over Fame
Though the famous person may appreciate all the worship, it feels empty.
And it feels empty because it is. It’s not genuine affection, because we don’t actually know them. It’s not authentic acceptance, because what we are accepting is a carefully crafted image. It’s not a sincere love, because what we love is not a flesh-and-blood person, but a performer.
And do you know who feels the truth of this reality like an irresistible undertow, pulling them out to into the sea of loneliness?
The two young stars I referenced at the beginning of this post. Stars who only years ago seemed as perfect as we wanted to believe they were. Only emotionally mature individuals (who have already learned to grow in healthy intimacy with the people who know and love them best) are prepared to withstand the fame fallacy.
What good is it if everyone knows your name, but no one knows you?
Instead of seeking fame, seek faithfulness. Don’t worry about being known by many. Concern yourself with being known – truly known – by a few family members and friends for whom you have no need to perform. Before whom you couldn’t perform if you wished.
Or ignore this advice and instead of intimacy gain the relational advantages fame legitimately can offer you. We’ll talk about that next week.
[This is post is part of a series called Relation^ology (it begins with this post) where we identify the greatest relational need of our heart and then ID the counterfeits we seek out or settle for instead. Relation^ology started out as a discussion series and can be booked for your college, youth or young adults group (or singles group, life group, cell group, community group or whatever they’re calling Bible study these days).]
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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better? And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!