Popularity Contest

The other day as I was following my kids to school on our morning walk, my oldest daughter was singing a praise and worship song, rather loudly, all the way from the house to the school. I loved hearing her happy, beautiful voice lifting her heartsong to heaven as she bebopped along the sidewalk. She didn’t care who heard or what they thought, she only cared about praising Jesus because he’s her savior and she knows it.

About half way there, we gathered in a group to cross the street, and these two older girls behind us, maybe 4th or 5th grade age, were giggling and watching the Thriller video by Michael Jackson on a smartphone.

And for the briefest moment, I had this flashback of being my daughters’ age again, while all my friends were watching MTV and talking about the Thriller video and how cool it was, and I felt very left out because I’d never seen it or heard it. We never had cable, and we didn’t turn on the radio until Christian radio stations became a thing in our part of the world (which wasn’t until the early 90s).  I didn’t know any secular music, only Christian music from church or the cassette tapes my mom bought for the car.

In that flashback, I remembered some of the other kids asking what kinds of songs I DID know if I’d never even heard Michael Jackson, and then I remember them laughing at me for my response of church hymns and Sandi Patty.

As I relived that memory, one of the first where I really felt different than my peers because of growing up in a household where my parents felt it better to shield me from worldly influences in many ways, I looked down at my daughter belting out her happy little praise song and felt ashamed of myself as a parent. I had the thought, “I should make sure she knows who Michael Jackson is, and that she can sing Thriller so she’ll be one of the cool kids and feel relevant someday instead of feeling like an outsider. We can love Jesus and still not be totally oblivious to the world, right?!?”

Of course we can. But then I shook off that feeling of shame and recognized it for the lie it is, then asked myself this question: if we aren’t considered “cool” or popular because of our faith, because we have joy in our hearts and want to worship the God of the universe on our walk to school instead of watching a music video that will in no way ever impact our eternity, is that actually a bad thing?

What I realized in that moment is that the world is going to teach her these things anyway. I learned about all sorts of things never taught in my home from outside influences, and she will someday too. In the meantime, rather than dividing her focus and attention away from the Lord in order to ensure she’s a “cool kid” I need to use what influence God has given me as her parent to explain to her WHY we are different, and that it’s not only okay to be set apart, but something we should strive toward and are called to as Christ followers. I need to teach her 1 Peter 1:15-16 which says, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.’”

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If my daughters are never considered “in the know” by their peers, what are they really missing out on knowing? Which YouTube channel has the most makeup tutorials, bad attitudes and behaviors on popular TV shows, and trash music with lyrics that are repulsive at best and depraved at worst? I’m not saying all popular this are bad, by any means, but not all are good either.

On the other hand, if they never know their Lord and savior intimately and personally because they were too distracted by everything else to spend time with Him, they are missing out on everything eternally significant. If they don’t know how to stand strong in their faith and knowing they are a child of God because they are so busy chasing popularity by following every new trend, THEN I have failed as a parent in teaching them the truly important things.

I have to come to terms with the fact that I’m not here to win a popularity contest, and neither are my daughters. We are here to take the hope of Christ to the world in a real and authentic way, and to live our lives in a way honoring to Him and set apart from what the world thinks is important. We don’t need others approval; we have God’s approval.

Not everyone is going to like my message or what I have to say, but that’s okay, because it’s not actually my message anyway, it’s His. I’m not here to get people to like ME. I’m here to help people learn to love JESUS and like HIM.

Knowing about me because of my popularity as a person will not change anyone’s life in any significant way, but knowing about Jesus because I was bold enough to stand up for what I believe in and not conform to the popular choices of this world will change a life in EVERY significant way.

I’m not here to build a platform. I’m here to stand on the Solid Rock that has already been established and laid out before the foundations of the world. Who needs a platform when you already have the best surface to build upon?

My life and my calling to this ministry of being The Godly Marketer are not about me and what I have to say, and it’s certainly not about being the most popular author or blogger in the Christian realm because I’m liked by the most groups of people because I never offended or alienated anyone with my message. Please, don’t misunderstand, I want to live and love like Jesus, and iI want all too feel welcome here, but never at the expense of ingratiating myself to every viewpoint on order to be able to inclusive. And I want to teach my daughters to live that way too.

Life as a Christian is not a popularity contest. I don’t ever want anyone to want to sit at my table and follow me. I want them to want to sit at HIS table and follow HIM.

So I guess I won’t stress over whether or not my girls know who Michael Jackson is and what he did when he was alive, as long as they know who Jesus is and what HE did when He was alive. I’m not going to worry about whether or not they will win a popularity contest, or if they have the most friends and followers on social media. I’m going to worry about whether or not they are living godly lives in pursuit of holiness, no matter what others think, because they know who they are and who Christ is, and who they are in Christ, and that’s all that really matters.

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