I just read an article on Huffington Post entitled Kids Want Fame More Than Anything. I have to admit the first time I read it I responded as the mom of an almost-4-year-old: “That’s it! No more TV! Elmo is evil!” (I hadn’t had any coffee yet.)
Then I got a bit more rational (and I made some coffee). And I read the article again with my interlinc hat on. I’ve been in and around ministry to students for (gasp) nearly 20 years. My husband has been involved in non-profits that focus on children and teens for about as long. And I’ve reached a point in my life where I find myself sometimes thinking “When I first started doing this … ” or “Kids these days … ” (Which is usually immediately followed by “Oh. My. Stars. I sound just like my mother!”)
So it’s really true …
I feel a bit validated by this article and the author’s research. It’s true. Kids these days are fascinated by fame. Not just by the famous, but by becoming famous themselves. Here’s a quote from the article:
In our discussions, we asked preteens what they wanted in their future. Their number one choice? Fame.
Even though children today have a myriad of media choices, they still watch television an average of 4 1/2 hours a day. If the messages kids see on TV are about young people achieving great success and renown, it’s only natural for kids to start wanting this for themselves.
Is 15 minutes enough?
Kids want to be famous. And the celebrities/artists/stars they idolize keep reinforcing this. Andy Warhol must have had a premonition about YouTube when he said in the late 1960’s “In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.”
Once upon a time, you had to actually DO something to be famous. “Viral” used to be something to avoid; now it’s something to strive for. When I was a kid (sheesh, there I go again … ), if someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, you named an actual profession: firefighter, doctor, actress. Fame might have been a result of your chosen profession, but fame in and of itself wasn’t something you set out trying to accomplish.
So after a few cups of coffee (and an hour of Sesame Street for my daughter – I’m really not a complete media-ogre), I was listening to Dominic Balli’s album “American Dream” (from YLO85). This album communicates so clearly that our purpose on this earth is not about us. Check out these lyrics from the title song “American Dream”:
I was just a boy when they told me
What you gonna be and they sold me
The American Dream for a small fee
The price of my life and my own dreams
What about a dream where the Kingdom comes
Peace on the earth and his will be done
What about a dream where the people fight
Not for fortune and fame but for saving lives
When we asked Dominic what message he wants to always leave with students when he performs, he said this:
Young people (especially in America) need to grasp the fact that we’re here for a reason much bigger than ourselves. God has chosen to work through His people to accomplish His work. As crazy as it sounds, God wants to involve us in His great plan of redeeming humanity back to Himself.
“God wants to work through His people …”
The back issues of Youth Leaders Only — nearly 20 years worth — are full of artists whose names and songs you know, some you don’t remember and maybe even a few you’d rather forget. For the majority of the artists, though, it was never about being famous or even remembered. It was, and is, because music is their God-given gift, and they’ve come to understand that He wants them to use it to share His message of love and grace.
I’ve been a part of interlinc (off and on) for over 16 years. I’ve listened to a lot of music and talked to a lot of Christian artists. I’ll admit there are a few that have been blinded by the shiny trappings of the music business. But there are hundreds of artists who are writing music, singing songs, making albums and hanging out with students because they believe it is the best platform they have to share the message of God’s love and grace.
I say this so much — when I talk to youth leaders at conferences, when I write emails or create flyers for Youth Leaders Only – but I believe it all the way down to my toes: as a youth leader, you are in a unique position to influence the music and media choices your kids make. But it’s not just about the message of the music; it’s also about the messengers. You have the opportunity to introduce your students to some amazing and gifted artists – Godly men and women who are using their talents not to glorify themselves, but to glorify God.