Perhaps it’s because I am all too aware of my own imperfections that I am very cautious about putting someone on a pedestal. To be sure, there are people I admire and respect, but there's a difference between admiring someone and thinking they hang the moon.
I am bothered by the fact that many times people are held in high esteem for no other reason other than they can throw a football, or look pretty on television, or lose weight, or make multi-million dollar deals. And I am bothered at how willing some of us are to look up to someone who is, when it comes down to it, very human.
Mid-way through the football season a talented player on my son’s team was sidelined due to an injury, resulting in some very interesting remarks: that’s it, it’s over and now we'll never win were just some of the comments I overheard. My son, along with some of his teammates, had made this player out to be such a hero that everyone else in comparison was . . . a non-hero.
Furthermore, by putting all their hopes on one person, the potential for other talent to emerge was stifled; they were abandoning hope in themselves, in their abilities, and in their gifts because, somehow, this one player’s talents made them feel less than who they were.
Needless to say, I had a lengthy conversation with my son, reassuring him that there is nothing wrong in recognizing something good in someone and wanting to be like that person. But when you cross the line into hero worship, you are basically setting yourself up to be less than that person . . . which is almost like saying God (who made us in his image) somehow made a mistake in how he made you.
I once accompanied a group of local doctors to Haiti for a 10-day mission trip. Part of that experience included a lot of rough travel, the most grueling of which was a 14-hour truck ride through mountains, desert and jungle until we reached the small village of Jean-Rabel.
During that long, long trip I was surrounded by doctors and missionaries who spent that time talking. One discussion involved the misdirection of youth, and a young missionary made a comment that rock music was a substitute for the Holy Spirit.
Oh, brother! I remember thinking.
But over time I’ve come to realize what she was trying to say. There’s nothing wrong with getting excited during a rock concert, or cheering a star athlete, or looking up to someone, or recognizing them as a leader.
The problem occurs when we lose sight of the First Commandment and lay those feelings of enthusiasm, admiration and even hope at the feet of someone who is merely human.
The problem occurs when we measure our own self-worth by human, rather than spiritual, standards.
I am grateful that the world is full of many wonderful people . . . people I admire and respect . . . people who inspire me to be a better person. But putting them on a pedestal? I know of only One who can hang the moon.