I saw the three young actors from the Netflix series “Stranger Things” on a talk show and everyone in the audience went absolutely berserk. It wasn’t a totally unusual response, just over the top enthusiastic. But the thing that made me take notice was, the young stars’ reactions. These kids were 12-14 years old and new to stardom, and seemed so inexperienced and unpracticed, that they looked overwhelmed and almost frightened as they entered the set.
I have watched the series, and love it, by the way. It’s a great show and the actors do a terrific job. It just made me kind of wonder… why do we do that? Why is an audience of, most likely, moms, dads, teachers, health care professionals, college students, business owners…accomplished, productive people applauding like mad for a trio of children?
Who Is Praise-Worthy?
Yes they entertain us, yes they do a great job of acting… and that’s all well and good. But when’s the last time we applauded or thanked the people who really make a difference in our life? Your child’s teacher, a police officer, doctor, child care provider or the guy who plows your snow and get you out of your driveway in the morning?
These are the people actually critical to our day-to-day lives, all these people playing specific roles to help our lives run smoothly… and we barely give them notice. But someone high profile who happens to have a gift and – granted does it very well, whether it’s singing, acting or sports-ing – well, we just go crazy for them.
I heard a preacher address this once, saying some people are uncomfortable with those who raise their hands or sing loudly in church, but it is simply a form of praise and worship. We’re expressing how we feel about Jesus. And if you think it’s weird, just think about what goes on at a Justin Bieber or Adele concert. Or at a football game. People yelling, screaming, raising their hands in the air, singing, chanting, cheering, swaying… all sorts of things. And we think that’s perfectly normal.
He makes a good point. It resonated with me because I had always been one who felt uncomfortable about people behaving that way at church. We think it’s cute or funny to see a 12 year old girl jumping and shouting and singing and even crying at a boy band concert. But if we see someone emoting at all like that in church, some of us feel it is a little odd. Why is that?
And it’s not just performers and sports stars we reserve this hero worship for. It even happens in church. People sometimes look up to the person in the pulpit with a sense of awe, and are somewhat intimidated or star struck with these models of spirituality. Of course we should respect someone in authority, especially when they are exercising that authority. But to treat them differently as a person, or with more respect than we treat the guy who picks up our trash is not only unnecessary, it is in direct opposition to what Jesus taught.
How about we start to honor and applaud the real heroes in our everyday lives? What might your spouse say if you thanked them for being such a good partner or good parent or good provider? Maybe it’s time to call your mom or dad and say thanks for how they raised you. Or your siblings, to tell them you remember how much fun you had growing up with them, and how supportive they were. Or maybe an easier place to start is with a note to the mailman or your child’s teacher, or an email to a co-worker to tell them you appreciate what they do.
One kind act can change someone’s day or week. Sometimes even their life, if the timing is right. You never know what someone might be going through. Speaking words of gratitude and praise into someone’s life could make all the difference. We have the power to give hope and encouragement, and build someone up, simply with our words.
Whose day can you brighten this week?