Tag Archives for " values "

I Celebrate You

I’m not a fan of celebrities. I don’t really see what the big deal is and I don’t know why I should join the easily entertained in celebrating them. I appreciate excellence and I appreciate hard work, but I don’t  see why I should give more admiration to someone who is publicly excellent than to someone who is privately excellent.

To be honest, I prefer hidden gems.

I prefer those who shine without the help of million Peso budgets and non-stop self-promotion. Most people don’t know of how lighting can make someone way more attractive than he or she really is, how a well-written, well-timed, press release can make someone seem more impressive, and how lights, and make-up, and learned exaggeration techniques can produce a star. Most of the songs people like follow similar chord progressions and beats. It’s been found that one of Lady Gaga’s most famous songs is way too similar to one of Madonna’s. Producers and marketers have found that there are formulas to make songs catchy – and we fall for these formulas over and over. Book publishers have an optimum number of words to make books sell better.

Even blogs have an optimum number of words. A number I never follow. I write to expound on thoughts – not to entertain. When people tell me my writing is too long I tell them they’re not my audience. When they say they don’t like how I keep challenging things on m blog or twitter or Facebook, I tell them to unfollow me.

It won’t change my constant message of THINK of what you truly value and spend your life on these things.

Why should I be so impressed with an optimized person who, as I’ve said in the past, has a bunch of takes to get it right, an army of people with the deliberate intention to make them prettier or handsomer or more impressive than they actually are, whose best lines come from a script, whose best moments must be accompanied by a score, and who are given a disproportionately large amount of attention, compensation, and influence over lives?

Celebrities can be found in many industries, including the non-profit and religious sectors. Even in these areas I’m not a fan. If they contribute greatly, then wonderful. But that still doesn’t make them any better than those who work hard and DON’T get the credit. I personally am uncomfortable with the amount of credit I get for my volunteer work when there are so many others who do way more than I do, who sacrifice more than I do, and who contribute more than I do. Just because I can communicate my ideas through speech and the written word, it does not make me more impressive and it should not garner me more respect than those who contribute silently.

This is why we love to treat and give gifts to pastors yet hardly ever think of the janitors.

Let’s take my own experience, while I get credit for the work of Habitat for Humanity, the organization will survive and even thrive if I wasn’t there. That’s a sign of a healthy organization. But it will actually miss more the presence of men like Charlie Ayco, the president, Yvonne, Tots, Kolleen, and other operations people that actually make the group work day after day. These people, though unrecognized, actually ARE immensely successful, and benefit our country, including you and I, way more than your average PR icon.

But our world is about attention. It’s about being recognized. It’s as if we don’t succeed if no one recognises us. And the one that gets more recognition is more successful.

That’s simple minded and stupid to be frank. And when I point this out to people, I always get unwelcome reactions.

This is even more stupid in my opinion.

Tell someone to spend their money and affection watching an attractive guy or girl shake his or her hips and sing, and you’re cool. Tell people to use their brain, and spend the same amount of money and affection on their parents, and you’re judgemental.

In my opinion, celebrityism, the unfounded glorifying of individuals just because they’re high profile, is a disease. Whether this is in entertainment, church, in business, or whatever area of society, giving too much credit to where it is not due means those who actually deserve the credit are starved of it.

I’m convinced more relationships would thrive if partners gave each other more credit than they do strangers – particularly celebrities they don’t really know apart from what’s manufactured. Parents and children would have better relationships if they didn’t spend so much time being impressed with what others have and appreciated what they do have. Employees and bosses would also get along better if there was better recognition of what even the lowest rung brings to the table.

I’m not a fan of celebrities.

But I am a fan of someone.

I’m a fan of you.

I’m not a fan of a few “impressive” people. I’m a fan of this hope that every man and woman would discover the value that rests within them that’s just as good as the value in any celebrity, and that they would cultivate their lives to give to the world and not just take. I’m a fan of the dream that people truly become connoisseurs, not of the material and fading, but of the life, the goodness, and dignity of every human being.

I don’t care about what coffee or canned good so and so uses. I don’t care about my pastor’s favorite verse (who happens to be my dad haha!), and I don’t care for my own fame. All attention does, when one logically breaks it down, is bring a tiring load of expectations. I have no interest in having to act like I’m this amazing guy. To want so much fame and recognition, and be willing to do pretty much anything to have them, is to really have serious identity issues.

I’m more interested in helping you be amazing – because you are – IF you would commit to becoming the best version of you, the person God intended you to be. This is not a perfect, “I do no wrong” sort of individual. This is a person who has found joy in touching lives for the better through his or her excellence. This is a person who does not strive to be a star on TV but a star in the sky.

The stars on TV shine to gain attention. The stars in the night sky shine to guide us. When the stars of TV fall, they act like kids, want more attention for themselves, and make excuses. When the stars of the night fall, they fall for us, so we make a wish.

If you happen to be famous, great, go shine – but KNOW why you shine – to light the dark skies of others, in other words, to enlighten people to a better way. If all you do is suck attention, you’re not a star, you’re a black hole – a dead star.

If you’re not famous, just as great, go shine – and know why you shine – to light the dark skies of others, in other words, to enlighten people to a better way.

“Wait a minute”, you may ask, “You just said the same thing.”

Exactly! Now you’re using your brain!

Famous or not, we’re all here to the same thing, be light to others and show them a better way. In this great calling we’re all equal, so why give more glory to your equal?

In this great calling we’re all equal, so I celebrate you.

A Shopping Guide for Life

“But you can never go wrong with the priceless things. They’ll always be a steal.”

The start of a new year is always a good time to step back and take deep look at the state of our lives. It’s a good time to evaluate ourselves, our desires and dreams, goals and accomplishments, our challenges and concerns, as well as our actions and decisions.

I actually think we should be doing this regularly – as in all-year regularly.

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions simply because, based on my experience and casual observance of others, we rarely sustain these grand decisions. Instead, I like to follow the Japanese practice of Kaizen – continuously growing through small improvements each day. So every evening, right before reading a self-imposed number of chapters before bed, I like to evaluate my day, what went right, what went wrong, what should I work on tomorrow or the next few days, what goes on my to-do list, what are the challenges, and after considering them I lift them to God to bless, to redeem, sometimes to forgive. I try to apply this practice of incremental growth powered by God’s grace to the things I do, whether it be business, social work, study, my creative pursuits, or whatever.

Despite this I can still be a jerk (a capital JERK to some), still be selfish, or unkind, or lustful (Yes, you women can be incredibly beautiful – and irritatingly illogical so don’t let your head get too big.). I can still be arrogant sometimes (Ok, more than sometimes.), still insecure (Which is why I’m arrogant.), still fearful (Which is why I’m insecure.), and incredibly limited in my goodness and capabilities (Which is why I’m fearful.).

All these shortcomings are products of wrong decisions, which in turn are products of a skewed value-system. Somewhere along the way, whether consciously or unconsciously, I learned to value the wrong things. Not everything of course, I do have right values, but enough mistaken valuations to leave a mark.

When my brothers and I were kids my parents read us a story from the book No Wonder They Call Him Savior by Max Lucado. It tells the story of an unusual kind of robbery where some thieves broke into a store, and instead of taking items all they did was switch the price tags around. Some expensive things became cheap, and the cheap things became expensive.

The funny thing was that no one noticed the price change at first. So people shopped as usual, buying things at unusually huge discounts and unusually huge markups.

And sometimes our world is like that. We shop around through life sometimes making decisions that cost us more than what we get for it and sometimes taking other things of value for granted. And just like walking through a superstore, walking through life can be overwhelming with all the options calling out to you.

And so to help me remember (because I can be immensely forgetful) I have brought out a shopping list – a shopping list for life that I thought about when I was a teenager, detailing the things I would pursuit. I’ve changed some of the words and ordering but the treasures have stayed the same. Proof that, despite my lack of experience and knowledge at the time, an open heart can see with amazing clarity.

I use the article “a” instead of “the” because I don’t want to suggest that my list is the only list possible list or even the best. This is merely MY reminder for MYSELF that I hope will cause you to evaluate your situation, to see what it is you’re purchasing with your life decisions, and to weigh the cost that you’re paying.

My simple shopping list for life:

1. A real relationship with God
Where I’ll find it: In time spent with Him
Where I won’t find it: Religion

2. A family with a lot of kids
Where I’ll find it: With the birds and the bees, and a ball and chain – Kidding. I’m still trying to figure this one out.
Where I won’t find it: In my chauvinism, E-Harmony (Not that there’s anything wrong with E-Harmony. How do I say it? It’s just not me?)

3. The means to help the poor and unjustly treated
Where I’ll find it: Proper valuation
Where I won’t find it: In my selfishness that only focuses on what I want and what I need

4. The ability to steward the resources that are entrusted to me
Where I’ll find it: In humility – I don’t have it. I don’t know. Father, give me grace.
Where I won’t find it: In my arrogance and self sufficiency

Every now and then I get lost, while driving, while looking for a restaurant, or a shop, or just inside my head. Sometimes I get distracted, by a looming concern, a pretty face, a smart conversation. And even sometimes I lose my way, forgetting what’s really important, purchasing baggage at crazy prices. So I have to keep reminding myself of what I really want, of what’s really important to me. Because you’ll always go wrong by buying something you don’t really want, no matter how seemingly cheap. But you can never go wrong with the priceless things. They’ll always be a steal.