I love working with teens. My ministry gives me the opportunity to be around a lot of teenagers.
Recently, I’ve been fascinated with the fascination many of them have with fame.
In Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truth Behind America’s Favorite Addiction,Jake Halpern, who has reported on Hollywood for NPR’s All Things Considered for several years, explores the fascinating and often dark implications of our national obsession with celebrity.
In this book, Halpern presents the results of a study he did in conjunction with Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications in which they polled 650 children in Rochester, New York, on their attitudes toward fame and pop culture. Among the disturbing findings of his original research:
• When given the option to become stronger, smarter, famous, or more beautiful, boys chose fame almost as often as they chose intelligence. Girls chose it more often.
• 43.4 percent of teenage girls want to become celebrity personal assistants when they grow up. They chose this option twice as often as “the president of a great university like Harvard or Yale,” three times as often as “U.S. senator,” and four times as often as “the chief of a major company like General Motors.”
• When asked whom they would most like to meet for dinner, teenage girls who indicated they were appreciated by their parents, friends, and teachers tended to choose Jesus Christ; those who felt under-appreciated were likely to choose Paris Hilton.
Makes you want to call (or text) your teen-aged daughter and tell her how much you appreciate her, huh?
Halpern also found that the recent explosion of reality TV, combined with the availability of celebrity “vacancies” and saturation of the media with celebrity-focused magazines and TV shows, has created a perception that it’s easier to become famous. Thirty-one percent of American teenagers believe that they will become famous one day.
This unrealistic expectation, on the part of teenagers, leads to unnecessary feelings of failure and inadequacy. If they are not famous by the time they are 25, they feel like they’re failures. How unfortunate.
I want teens to find their value in being made in the “image of God” (Gen. 1:27) and in being his “workmanship” (Eph. 2:10).
Last night, at Fusion (our youth program), I read these verses. In light of what I’m sharing with you this morning, these verses resonate in my heart even more.
The brother in humble circumstances out to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.–James 1:9, 10
Worldly fame is an illusion
Paris Hilton may be on top of this world. She may have wealth beyond our wildest imagination. She may be famous in this world, but–without Jesus–her life is only a shadow of what it could really be as a Christ-follower.
To any teenager who is reading this post I say this: You are extraordinary because you are made in the image of God. You are amazing–not because of what you have accomplished–but because of what God can accomplish through you as his workmanship. Your value is not contingent on whether or not people want your autograph or have your picture hanging on their wall. And, even if no one on this planet ever praises your name, if you serve Jesus Christ with your life–one day–God will sing your praises saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” (Matthew 25:21)