Last night my daughter and I were watching all of the classic Christmas cartoons. We watched, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and I noticed something that I had nevernoticed before. We all know the song and the plot of the movies follows the lyrics. The song talks about all of the reindeer teasing poor Rudolph for his glowing nose. Then when the downtrodden reindeer gets an invitation from Santa to be the leader of the sleigh, suddenly all of the other reindeer loved him, they even shouted out with glee.
I was thinking, this totally sounds like junior high. All of the students think that everyone is looking at them, one minute you’re a dork, then the prank you pulled in class makes you temporarily famous. Junior highers travel in packs, just like reindeer, they feel worthless unless someone more popular than them praises or gives status to them and physical appearance is king.
I wonder if many of us have been stuck in this mentality since junior high. First, we give all the praise to those who have positional power; they have a title and authority, therefore they are to be revered. For many people, their self worth hinges on what others might think or say. Have we become a culture of people who feel worthless and take it out on everyone whom we come in contact with? Do we constantly try to prove that we are worthy of love? The Rudolph paradigm that we have been living under is that you are ignored and even made fun of without a title, then when you receive it, the same people who made fun of you will now celebrate you.
What’s wrong with this picture? Are they celebrating you or the title? Have we created a system where people are desperately seeking the next best thing, only to find out it is a step ahead of them? Have we set up a system where leaders with big titles are a little too celebrated? Are we really that shallow? What’s wrong with being average?
I was at a leadership retreat this week and there was this idea that was thrown out that all of the sudden made me understand myself a little better. The idea was people don’tchange; they just become more of who they already are.
Think about it, what did you love to do as a kid? What subjects in school did you excel in? What were you naturally good at? Aren’t you just more of all of these things today?
For as long as I remember, I have always loved pulling together people to complete a task. Even as a kid I naturally took the lead in school projects, I made the presentations and I looked for opportunities to be up front. While public speaking is the number two fear in this country, give me a microphone and an audience and I could talk my head off for hours.
This weekend I realized that I have simply become more of what I already am. So my question is, what are you becoming? What are you leading up to in your life? Do you like who you are becoming? While your strengths and weakness may stay the same, your character can be transform. If you’re a jerk, you don’t have to stay that way.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that relationships can have a huge effect on people. I’ve seen some really stupid guys get into relationships with some amazing women and they have matured and their character has changed. I’ve seen it the other way around as well. Relationships can be powerful. There is nothing more transformative that a relationship with the creator of the air you breathe. Nothing can transform like an encounter with God, which is tantamount to having an encounter with love. Love is the only thing that can transform character that can heal brokenness and that can mend the pain. Pure love helps us come to a realization that we can’t change ourselves, only be transformed.
This last week I have been racking my brain about this thread of scripture about the perfection of Jesus. Back in the days before Jesus, when the sacrificial system was in full swing the only chance to get the slate wiped clean was to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. You couldn’t just offer anything, there were rules, and one of the rules was that the sheep or goat that you offered had to be unblemished. You had to offer a perfect sacrifice to the lord because it is costly; it’s worth something and was not to be taken lightly.
Because of the crazy amount of unblemished livestock that was needed each year for sacrifices and festivals, a special group of shepherds were assembled who were specially trained to look for the perfect sheep. Shepherds typically were not well educated; they also had a poor reputation as highway robbers and thieves because they were always on the move. But these shepherds were different, they knew what it took to find the perfect sheep, they knew how to keep it safe and free from blemish so that when it died it would actually redeem a people of their sins.
There is this oral debate that has been going on for thousands of years and there is a record called the Mishnah, in this work the scholars believe that a verse in Micah 4:8 that prophesies that shepherds will oversee the birth of the messiah. But not just any shepherds, the ones who are specially trained to find the one who will be perfect. We know that historically these shepherds were stationed around Bethlehem. There is a very good chance that the shepherds who were told that the Christ child had been born, were the very same shepherds who worked for the temple to try and find the unblemished sheep, so that the perfect sacrifice could take place so that the people could be redeemed.
This is an amazing little bit of information that isn’t preached on much. But to me it really highlights how Jesus holds all things together. In his forbearance he knew his plan for salvation but he had to take a few thousand years and lay a solid foundation so that people would recognize the messiah.
There are a thousand applications to all of this and more that we go through the story the more we find. But I thought I would ask you, is there any significance to you that Jesus is and was perfect?
My wife and I cleaned out our spare room the other day. We made it into Emma’s new room while her old room was transformed into Lucy’s new bedroom. While I was moving everything out I had this thought about life, marriage and children.
When I was a kid, life was about me. Christmas was about me, school was about my education and growing up was about me. When I fell in love and got married life was about us. It was a small transition. After the first few times of doing laundry I noticed that I could never find some of my socks and my t-shirts. It wasn’t a big deal, I used our spare room to put all of my clothes in so I could usually find what I needed.
I also started to notice that Des and I would trade cars a lot. Her stuff became my stuff and mine hers. Then Emma came along and we set a room aside for her. When she was newly born she spit up over almost every shirt I owned. I didn’t care as much because she is super cute. Then Lucy started to come along, and I no longer have my own closet. The kids are starting to invade the house and Lucy isn’t even here yet. Every now and then I will find toys where the pots and pans go. I open the glove box and I find kid socks. I take a shower and a hear, “DAAAAAAAAD!” Emma has snuck away from mom and come to say hi while I am in the shower.
I know it sounds like I am complaining, but I wouldn’t change any of this for the whole world, I love my girls. I have learned the secret to being happy in the midst of the female invasion. It’s not about me any more and I’m totally at peace with that. There is this idea that Jesus talks about. It is called dying to yourself. I’ve never had to die to my selfish desires as much as I have in the past couple of years, but since I did, I’ve never been happier.