Who Are We Inspired By?
I talk a lot about role models on this blog. That’s because I think it’s very important for young people to have godly examples in their lives to emulate. I get excited whenever I meet or learn about someone inspiring. Someone who has a great attitude, or who has done something amazing for the Lord. Usually, these people aren’t famous and I don’t tend to see them being interviewed on the Today Show (although, if the Today Show were to interview one of my role models, I’d probably be pretty stoked). No, these are just “Average Joe”s. Normal men and women, from all different backgrounds and time periods, who somehow made a mark on history, no matter how small.
Anyway, today I wanted to talk a little bit about who we find inspiration from. We live in a culture that reveres celebrities. Young girls cite Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, and Shawn Johnson as their biggest role models. Guys tend to admire Michael Phelps, Peyton Manning, and Mark Zuckerberg. I’m not saying that any of these people are bad examples. Some of them are great role models! I even think of Christians like Bethany Hamilton and Tim Tebow.
However, I think that there is one very big empty space that young people are missing when they think about their inspirations. And that is the example of the “Average Joe”. I think about people like Nicole and Karin, both of whom I’ve mentioned on this blog. I doubt you’d ever heard of either of those young women before. You’ll probably never will hear of them again. But they’ve had a greater impact in my life than all the celebrities and sports stars combined.
Because really, when you think about it, just what is so inspirational about all those celebrities? The fact that they said “no” to sex before marriage? The fact that they abstain from using curse words in their songs? Um, I do both of those things. You probably do, too. Those are great, admirable qualities, but just because someone is marketed as “clean” and “family-friendly”, it doesn’t necessarily make them role model material.
When I think about the great inspirations of my life, one of the first examples I think of is William Borden. “Huh?” you’re probably thinking. Yeah, I’m not surprised that you don’t know about him. I didn’t know anything about him either, until I dug up an old biography at an estate sale. But what I read in those pages absolutely floored me. This was a man who lived in the early 20th century, and was born into a wealthy English family. However, he denounced his fortune, gave up his place in his father’s company, and pledged his life to the Lord’s work. Unfortunately, William Borden never made it to the mission field. His life was cut short at the age of 25, when he died of meningitis while training for missions in Egypt. But did he ever have seconds thoughts about the life of luxury he was giving up for a life of potential danger, discomfort, and hardships? No, siree. After his death, these words were found written in his well-worn Bible: “No Reserve. No Retreat. No Regrets.”
THAT was a man worth admiring. And I’ve certainly never seen a CNN documentary about him. No blockbuster movies. No Christian radio show interviews. And yet, he remains one of my biggest heroes of the faith. For a life short-lived, but lived all for the glory of God.
Do you see what I mean when I tell you that your biggest role models can go beyond the realms of celebrities, athletes, and politicians? Nicole, Karin, and William are just three examples of everyday people who have had an impact on me, personally. Who is going to inspire you? Is it going to be the curly-haired songstress who makes three million dollars merely by showing up at a red carpet event — or the woman at your church who works tirelessly to make sure that there’s enough bulletins to go around every Sunday? The one that’s never paid, or thanked, but who continues to print and fold hundreds of papers anyway, just because she enjoys serving the Lord in every possible way. Will you admire the athlete who won a million gold medals and made a fortune advertising for swimming pools — Or the girl who offers to babysit weekly at no charge for that family with eight kids so that they can take their three-year-old to his weekly doctors’ appointments, until the physicians can figure out how to fix his heart?
Those are the people you should admire. They’re not flashy, or famous, or well-paid. You probably wouldn’t even notice them at all unless you took the time to really look. I’m constantly praying that God will open my eyes to see and appreciate His servants. As humans, we’re drawn to notice the rich and gaudy. But, as Christians, we should always seek to be aware of the humble and servant-hearted. Those are the people we should desire to be more like. And once we open our eyes to the amazing Christ-loving people around us, we will never fail to be inspired and encouraged by their godly examples. That’s what our generation needs to be moving toward. Forget Kate Middleton. I’d take Katie Davis any day, any time. 😉