At Least Don't Crucify It

It's one thing to chase big names as a fanboy.
It's another to pursue excellence.

After 10 plus years of speaking for a living, it starts to dawn on me - hey, words matter.  I need to be able to sustain a thought for more than 5 seconds in conversation, for more than 2 sentences in a paragraph.

Call me a slow learner.

So I'm coming to appreciate the difficult task of writing and speaking well, so that you're enjoyable to read or hear.  This has set me on the tightrope journey between chasing celebrities and studying excellence.  You probably face this in some other area of life.  It may be sports or investing or anything.  Do you hang on every word Warren Buffet says, or do you study why he's doing what he's doing?

Kevin DeYoung is a big name preacher and writer right now.  We were both in the same denomination, and we have the same values and concerns.  He's speaking at Ligonier and Desiring God.  He's a year or two younger than me, which makes me feel... well, jealous.  What's the difference between him and me?


He excels at speaking and writing.  I get by.  I know I'm helpful to people, since they've told me so.  I'm not meaning to be self-deprecating or conspicuously humble or beat myself up.  Some people have a knack for it, or they work harder, but whatever the process, the end result is better than it is for others.

Americans have a hard time with this.  Our creed is that all people are equal, a distortion of what Jefferson actually wrote - that we are created equal.  Politicians today actually pursue equality of income.  This makes us resent the more able, the wealthy, the popular.

But we should pursue excellence and commend it!  When I read a great blog post, I want to work harder at writing better.  If I respond sinfully, I wind up grumpy at the author for being a "celebrity" with "fans."  He's obviously caught up in pride and the narcissism of the blogosphere.  Like I really know, but I need to cut him down to size in my mind, since he's obviously doing better than I am.

So when you bump into excellence, be inspired to work harder at it yourself.  Avoid the trapdoor of resentment and envy.  Watch out for the easy road of following folks as a fan.  This is fine, when you're keeping an eye on how the pros do it, so you can do it, too.  But often we follow celebrities to escape from our duties and live vicariously through them.  No, no, no.

The Jewish leaders asked Pilate to put Jesus to death because of envy (Mark 15:10).  Don't be those guys.  But many react and resolve to not follow anyone or anything excellent.  Wouldn't want to be part of a "celebrity culture."  Uh, huh.   Which leaves you on your own.  Don't look for help from anyone else, that would be copycatting.  This is WAY mis-guided.

Instead, let us fix our eyes on Jesus and run our race as He ran His (Hebrews 12:1-2).

What will you do with the excellence you see in the world?

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