Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Trouble With Fame and Fortune

As the father of four daughters, I have been troubled by the very public struggles of several young female Hollywood personalities. The latest exploits of Lindsey Lohan, Jessica Simpson, and Britney Spears have proven to be fertile ground for the tabloids and a rich source of gossip for celebrity watchers everywhere. On a human level, however, the stories are troubling and ought to touch us at a deeper level. These stories expose some age-old truths to a new generation and should cause those of us who are parents to think carefully about the futures we wish for our children and the goals we encourage our children to pursue.

High on the life pursuit priority list for most of us is a deep hope that our children will one day achieve fame and fortune. What could be better than knowing that our children have arrived and that they will be well-known and well-compensated for what they do vocationally? Who doesn't relish the thought of one's children being power players in the world, able to call the shots and mingle at will with all of the beautiful people? All of us would love to have this happen to our children - at least on the surface! It's clear, however, that fame and fortune do not necessarily lead to a care-free life. In the cases of these young women, fame and fortune have led to temptations, trials and tests that have left them diminished professionally and damaged emotionally. It seems like forever since their carefree days of seeming innocence with the Mickey Mouse Club and other kids' adventures.

These women achieved their fame initially as young stars - full of promise, hope and wholesome images. A powerful underlying theme in all of their lives is a relentless pursuit of fame at the cost of their childhoods and normal progressions of development. Celebrity biographies expose astounding tales of children behind the scenes playing perilously close to an adult world with only a facade of youth. We often see children dealing with demanding work schedules, incredibly unsupervised pursuits of pleasure and intense experimentation with some very undesirable lifestyles. Nevertheless, all is justified because they have "arrived" in that they are recognized and admired around the world and can anesthetize themselves with anything money can buy. But fame can't assure contentment, and as to paraphrase what the Beatles sang, "Money can't buy [you] love".

Jesus warned us of the limitations of monetary pursuits. He asked, "What profit is it to gain the whole world and lose one's own soul?" Scripture further tells us that "A good name is better chosen riches" Note that it doesn't say a famous or well-known name, but a good one. It is interesting to note that in our day, we seldom differentiate between fame and infamy or the goodness or lack thereof that has helped someone the achieve a well-known name.

We need to remind our children of the importance of seeking to be known by God and to be known for pursuing His blessing and His will. Many years ago, a young man named Jim Elliott penned words that serve as a challenge to every generation to pursue the things that really matter:
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

We can't keep the fame and fortune of this world forever. Jesus warned that these things rust, decay, or are taken away. Let's pursue and teach our children to pursue the indestructible riches of godly character, selfless service and faithful resilience that comes from walking with the Lord and being dedicated to His purposes for our lives. These are true riches that will pay dividends beyond ourselves to other people for generations to come. Until next time,


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