I have two teenagers and two tweenagers so, I often hear about role models and heroes - people who are looked up to, by young people who have not yet firmly decided who they are. These kids may be flailing around helplessly and grasping onto whatever seems stable to them in order to establish a base upon which to build their own character. What they do not understand at their age is that you can't build your life on someone else's base. Doing so leads to instability in your life and even more floundering about because you haven't built your own base on something real and substantial, but on what you perceive to be the ideal. You don't realize that what you see of famous and/or popular people is often only the surface of who that person is. There can be myriad cracks and instability in their base, but you would never know it by outward appearances; you would have to dig underneath the surface to see the condition of the base (or core) of the person.
Take the story of the wise and the foolish builders in the bible (Matthew 7:24-29). Here, Jesus illustrates that a builder is wise to build a house on a firm, rock foundation rather than one of sand. This way, when the storm blow through, the house stays intact. The same can be said in your life, you have to build your life on a firm, carefully chosen base in order to have a foundation that will withstand the storms of live that will inevitably hit. It is hard enough to go through trials in life when you know who you are and you're sure that your foundation is firm. It is just fool-hardy to try to get through life on an unsure base: one that is likely shallow and mercurial.
This is a lesson I try to teach my teenagers as they are blossoming into adulthood - don't try to be like anyone else, just concentrate on being the best you that you can be. Everyone is such a unique and individual person and it is so much easier to shape yourself into the best version of you that you can, rather than twisting and bending around to make yourself look like someone else and basing your life on the unknown stability of someone else. This is not to say that you can't respect others and seek out people for advice and guidance, but you have to be careful about who you allow to mentor you. Do they simply want you to agree with them all the time and go along to get along, or do they truly want you to thrive in your own right? These are questions you have to ask yourself. I know the latter are the people I want to align myself with.
I guess I have just never understood the whole hero worship thing. Even when I was young and had low self esteem I still didn't want to emulate anyone else. I wanted to explore who I was, but I never wanted to copy anyone's life, looks, style, mannerisms, etc. I thank God that I didn't because goodness knows how many bad eggs I could have fashioned myself after over the years. No, when it boiled down to it, I knew that there was no one in the world who I looked up to in that way. I have always had only one hero in my life and that is Jesus Christ. He is the only hero I worship and the only one I want to be like.
That its, after all what being a Christian means. It means striving to be Christ-like. I want to be compassionate, loving, graceful, tenderhearted and merciful, just like Jesus. Even though I know I will never accomplish that ultimate goal, I know that with this desire as a base, my foundation will be firm. I will be able to confront problems, enemies, difficulties and heartaches in my life without collapsing into a heap of rubble. I can press on on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14).
So, when I hear anyone advising someone to be more like someone else, I bristle. No one should be giving that advice and no one should feel compelled to take that advice. In the end it will get you exactly nowhere. You need to be careful who you put up on a pedestal and look up to, they are liable to fall off that top spot and land right on top of your head. Not good a good scenario for either party.
© KDV 2009