Elvis Presley is arguably the most popular cultural icon in history. Though he was deeply spiritual, it might surprise you to know the King also struggled with insecurity and a never-ending quest for the meaning of life. Near the end of his days, he desperately wished to escape the rat race of performing and the blinding spotlight that had been both a blessing and a curse.
I will admit I have the tendency to get a little star struck by the rich and famous, but please bear with me.
I’ll never forget my first-ever rock concert: Rick Springfield. It was 1985 and my older cousin allowed me to tag along to the show. I remember her confidently shoving a path to the front of the stage where the “mosh pit” area awaited – so close I could see the sweat dripping from Rick’s brow! I even convinced myself we’d made eye contact that night. After that first experience, I was hooked.
Like most girls my age, the walls of my room were papered with pictures featuring heartthrobs of the day: Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid), Tom Cruise, and many hair bands of the 80’s. Years later, my television broadcasting career enabled connections to different musicians, politicians, and B-list stars (no offense intended to Vanilla Ice or Eddie Money).
In 2003, after many concerts and brushes with fame, Jesus delivered me from my addiction to alcohol and started working on my tendency to form idols. I shifted to a fascination with famous people who’d found Jesus as well as recovery from their addictions – because of the influence they held. I spoke to Lou Gramm from the band Foreigner at the Minnesota State Fair and he shared that Hazelden had saved his life. A devout Christian, Gramm has been sober since the 90’s. I also hung out at an Iowa county fair with Jack Russell from the 80’s rock band Great White. Jack had battled a serious alcohol addiction which brought him to the brink of death, though he’s now been sober several years. Never have I met a rock star so gracious and humble – even inviting my husband and me to hang out backstage with him all night.
Over the years, my fascination with famous people has faded, as God has continually shown me they are just humans who have been blessed with incredible platforms capable of reaching millions. God is no respecter of persons, and Jesus tells us that those who are first in this life will be last in the next.
“He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” Mark 9:35
No longer swooning over famous people, God has caused me to instead take special notice of those who use their platforms for GOOD rather than evil or selfish ambitions – those who promote the Kingdom instead of themselves, and give Jesus all the glory.
I can think of no better example of this than Mike Lindell. Mike is the type of guy who passes out devotionals and gospel tracts to people on the street and at the fairs where he’d peddle his pillows. He is never far from his humble beginnings, and he’s just as happy doing a Bible study with a group of 5 as he is speaking to a crowd of 5000. I’ll admit that I was a little enchanted when we first met – though once the novelty of the “My Pillow Guy” wore off, I saw him more clearly through the eyes of Jesus and realized he was a human God had entrusted with many responsibilities and special callings.
We should all strive to be a leader like Mike Lindell. It is time to go “ALL IN” and to stop worrying about what others will think. Many of us will talk to our spouse or closest friends about our true beliefs, but fail to allow others to see the side we fear may be rejected or ostracized. The truth is, we can trust the Lord to help us in these situations, and He will never forsake us for standing up for what is right. We don’t have to be famous or to have a huge platform in order to be an influencer. Each of us has a sphere of influence and others are watching to see how we will handle ourselves under times of testing. Are we the real deal? Are we truly sold out for Jesus and all that he embodies, or only when it’s easy?
Faith and action work together. We can’t just say we believe something, yet put no action behind it. Our deeds are the fruit that grows when we are obedient to God’s commands.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26
We are engaged in a much greater battle than simple disagreement of political ideology or pillow preference. Our current crisis runs far deeper and represents an epic battle between good and evil. The parable of the weeds is illustrated in Matthew chapter 13. In this parable, Jesus is the sower and the enemy is the devil. The good seed represents people who listen and respond to God’s word – those who belong to the Kingdom of God. The weeds represent those who have rejected Jesus. On the last day, people will be separated into their eternal destiny. This life on earth is not a game. We are in the midst of a battle between good and evil which will determine all of our fates.
Mike Lindell is a prime example of someone who has taken life situations which the enemy hoped would destroy him, and instead has channeled them into an intense drive to help others and to rescue them from the bondage of addiction. His amazing recovery platform – The Lindell Recovery Network has already helped thousands through powerful video content, the Operation Restored Warrior course, and many other resources designed to help hurting people encounter Jesus. The purpose of the LRN is to restore hearts and break the chains of addiction through helping people find freedom in the saving power of Christ.
As you can see, Mike Lindell truly seeks to use his fame and visibility to point others to the only One who can offer true restoration. As I consider so many sports icons, rock stars, and actors with unbelievable reach, I am saddened to watch them burn their influence by selling what is sexy or jumping on board with whatever is hot in our fickle culture. Mike will never sell out like that. He has a lot to teach others about perseverance, courage, and having a thick skin, if only they’d be a little more open-minded.
Recently I appeared on a national podcast and had an overwhelmingly favorable response, however there will always be a few critics. Someone asked, “Why would you go on a show with a host so divisive and controversial?” My response? ANYONE who is gracious enough to allow me airtime on a platform which has millions of subscribers and freely allows me to lift the name of Jesus HIGH… is someone I want in my corner. The personalities of others are of little importance as long as the gospel is being shared.
“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.” Philippians 1:18
The world as we know it is passing away, and it’s time to adopt an eternal mindset and to quit caring about people’s opinions that bear no relevance to our missions as Kingdom ambassadors. Placing our hope in idols or in the approval of others is a failed endeavor. We must never look to people or the things of this world to find value or meaning.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17
The quest to find identity in money, fame or worldly riches is so unstable. No one knows this better than Elvis. In the book “Conversations with the King,” Elvis’ stepbrother – David Stanley, shared intimate details of his life with Elvis. Elvis was a man with every worldly thing – money, fame, adoration of millions – yet constantly asked his stepbrother – “Who am I?”
I’ve spent a lot of time letting others define me, and I know deep down that the ONLY One who satisfies the longing of the human heart for unconditional love, acceptance, and true intimacy is Jesus. He knows every aspect of our being, every ugly thought, and self–serving action – and he loves us anyway.
In the world, those with fame are often the flavor of the month. They’re the hottest thing for a season, but ultimately everyone ages, and the culture of the world shifts. Athletes lose their edge or age out and actors get passed up for younger models.
The ego is a hungry beast that can never be satisfied through the temporary likes, shares, and pats on the back offered through social media. This validation provides a momentary boost just like a drug might; however, the opposite side of the coin is also true. When a person’s identity is governed by external sources of approval – rejection, hateful comments, and criticism can result in a painful and self-absorbed existence.
When you ask yourself that question Elvis asked – who am I – who do you allow to define the answer? The world? Your boss? Your family? Your neighbors?
We must take the answer from the true King, and I don’t mean Elvis. I mean King Jesus – the only One who should be allowed to tell you who you are.