Dying 2 Live...!

Dying 2 Live...!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Respect Series 10: "The Talent Factor"

I am by no means "a television buff" but am aware of some of the programs out there, from commercials coming on in the middle of sporting games I view. There are three shows I continue to see advertised: America's Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars and The X Factor. I have never actually seen any of these shows, but one thing is certain. There is a high stakes on viewing talent. Whether someone is singing, dancing or a combination of the two, we want to see that talent displayed.

I've already mentioned my fascination for sports. But why such a fascination with balls, fields, hoops, tracks, rackets, bats, etc? Well, it's not about any of those things as much as it's about the astounding talent. Numerous others like myself want to see spectacular talent at least every weekend. That's why billions are spent annually on sports with people filling stadiums, purchasing jerseys or tailgating.

The better the talent, the better the chances are for a seemingly well off life. See, most people overwhelmingly LOVE the quintessential star. A rising-professional athlete is mainly known as one with a life filled with good living. Money galore, praise abundant and MAJOR RESPECT are the norm for most top notch athletes. But why? Why is an athlete so widely respected? It's not like they're all saving lives, repetitively ministering hope or revolutionizing this world for God's glory. They're just simply PLAYING a sport. The same goes for an actor or artist; they're not doing anything super special as it relates to the grand scope of things in the world.

Instead most teachers, firefighters, policemen and pastors wish they could be respected with at least half of the respect of top-tier athletes and actors. Many would feel so blessed to gain just some of that recognition. But they as well as ourselves should realize that living for the accolades of people is not a healthy goal. People are fleeting and fickled; they love you today and turn their backs on you tomorrow. If you don't believe me, just ask the star athlete or actor who has regressed in their performance or production. Suddenly, their fans agree in unison, "Next, c'mon let's do away with them and look for the next best thing coming."

Even Jesus can assist us in identifying with that disappointing feeling. He was gloriously praised on Thursday and painfully crucified on Friday. For those who may have outstanding talent, or their opposite counterparts who are much less talented, to put it kindly. Know that you are blessed, special and can rest in the talent and power of Jesus. He wants to work in you and through you, where He gets ALL the glory. God doesn't just only want the best ability but total availability. EFFORT matters with Him much more than just talented results. Contemporary Christian singer Rachael Lampa said it best in one of her old hits: "I AM BLESSED... Oh Lord, for all the worse and all the best, I am blessed!"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Respect Series 9: "The Fashion Factor"

Bill at time of checkout: $30 for a bra, $300 for a pair of shoes, $3,000 for a bracelet, and $30,000 for an evening dress with matching shawl laced with 1/2 cut diamonds. It seems ridiculous, doesn't it? Nearly $35,000 spent on 1 outfit to be used for only 1 evening. Again, it seems ridiculous, doesn't it? How about I add the fact that the purchaser has a salary of $75,000, is in debt from student loans, have a mortgage payment of $2,500, and car payment of $500. Is it still ridiculous? How about I say the purchase is for their wedding day on tomorrow. Suddenly, the purchase is now seemingly justified...and the check is comfortably written. Wow!

Let's try this on for size. If I say, "An elegant texture with refined faux, touch of cowhide laces and shiek but chic looping brooch." Who would have known that I was referring to a designer belt. I can tell the truth, I wouldn't have even known. Well, what about when we hear names like Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Prada, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Vera Wang, Salvatore Ferragamo, and MIU MIU? To be frankly honest, I would nearly be just as lost as I was with the belt scenario. But much of the nation in general would know about all of those names in some manner or another. And the fashion industry, media circuits, or luxury community would make sure you're privvy to many of those names and more. The fashion industry has their own language that the masses, surprisingly, understand. Not only do they understand this language, but they validate so many others by it.

I can remember growing up in grade school and hearing children taunt one another over their fashion. "Whoa, your shoes are bobos...Those aren't Nikes, they're Mike's!" or "Girl, who did your makeup? It's tore up from the floor up!" Children were so cruel in those days, targeting many times the fashion of their peers. Many believe, today's children are even worst! So, if I didn't want to get made fun of, I had to beg my parents, sneak designer clothes from my older siblings or try to work a minimum wage job at a young age. Tough times I tell you, tough times! But why? Why was there such an elite significance placed on designer clothes?

Actually, the significance wasn't placed on the clothes as much as it was placed on the name on the clothes. Then, why was the name important? Well, the name really wasn't important either. For all we know, some of those individuals could have been killers, bigots, thieves, snobs, etc. Eventually, what I learned over time was that the name wasn't the significant or important thing. The primary focus was on the name's affluence level. People usually identified the brands with affluence. Even if you weren't rich, at least, you could feel like you were. Better yet, you would even get respected like the rich get respected, seemingly. Herein lies a problem.

Value and respect, in this essence, is based on something fleeting, something material, someone mainly given worth due to their income or inheritance---someone RICH. For many of us, we're no longer in grade school. Thus, we shouldn't be acting like children. Let's grow up! Let's stop seeking to identify with a cultural norm that only respects you for your social class or income level. Or, in this case, your fashion... and let's look to be respected for who we are, not so much what we have or where we seem to stand in society.