Wednesday, January 18, 2006

When You Want a Different Talent (Or, Those Poor Kids on American Idol)


Like a few million other people, Tom and I watched American Idol last night (she confesses).

We'd been anticipating it and as always, it did not disappoint. Well, maybe a little. I mean, although it's great fun to hear the awful, delusional wannabe's, it would have been equally nice to hear more from those who could actually sing a note on key. A little horrible squawking goes a very, very long way and it was odd that the judges let some of it go on sooo long. A few times, peace-loving, God-fearing Tom and I threw walnuts at the tv screen and moaned, "For heaven's sake, put the kid out of his misery!"

Well, anyway, like I noted here last year, American Idol, for me, is a great case study in human nature gone awry. Those poor kids--the ones who truly believe they can sing, but who, oh my, cannot. Why do they do this to themselves? Why do they buy airline tickets or drive thousands of miles just to stand before judges who will, quite likely, fling the truth at them, "That was horrible. You are not a singer!"? (Actually, with Simon being involved, you're likely to hear much worse-- words which just may sear your soul for years to come.)

The reasons for this self-asked-for torture are many and varied, I know. Some people just crave recognition--whether it be fame for greatness or idiocy--it matters not. And well, I do realize the list is endless why nice, decent kids would subject themselves to such incredibly-public humiliation.

But what stands out to me most, year after American-Idol-year, is that thing of not accepting ones own God-given talent... of craving, instead, a spotlight talent. Of so strongly desiring a talent which will bring (they believe) enormous fame, huge accolades, applause and acceptance by the masses and by ones own self.

It's so easy to watch those clueless kids who try out for American Idol (some year after year) and pity them. And yet, how many of us have the exact same mindset? How many of us have wished we had the 'in front of the curtain' talents? The ones everyone notices and applauds?

This is such a huge topic, way too big for a simple blog post... but all I know is that talents and callings are given to help and encourage mankind--the other guy, not ourselves. It is in the giving that we receive. And there is no better gift or talent to be had other than the ones we already have been given. Life gets exciting when you use your own, custom-given talent and if there is no joy in the giving of it, the fault is our own--not God's, not our parents', our siblings', the general public's, not even Simon Cowell's.

What if? What if all the unhappy wannabe's who spent energy, time and money traveling to the American Idol try-outs had, instead, put all that energy, time and money into discovering what their real talent was? And then, what if, once their talents were discovered, they proceeded to put energy, time and money into developing those talents into something exceptional?

It's hard to imagine a world where thousands and thousands of people were faithfully, masterfully using their God-given talents, isn't it? It's especially difficult because too often what we see, instead, are people wanting what others have worked hard for and the happiness which comes from a job well-done and self-mastery. What we see are people wanting the fame which proceeds some gifts, thinking that fame meets the deepest needs of human hearts.

But it doesn't, because it was never about fame or money or spotlights in the first place. It's always been about this:

"...It is more blessed to give than to receive." ... Acts 20:35

There is an incredible secret there. I hope you've found it, too.

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