Praiseworthy Pageantry

As is typical for this year, I was attending a flurry of holiday parties, pageants, performances and festivities. One particular event stood out to me this year. Three young men sang a popular Christian song at a Christmas pageant. As I joined the majority of the audience for a standing ovation after the performance, I realized that I wasn’t just standing to applaud the young gentlemen who did an outstanding job. I was also standing to applaud the Lord for giving these individuals such incredible talent that they could use to glorify God.

pexels-photo-756241 copyAs I stood there clapping, I thought to myself, “How many times in my life have I missed an opportunity to applaud the Lord?” I always focus on the performance, not the performer.  My attention zeros in on who’s in front of me and what they’re doing, not who gave them the talent and who they’re honoring. That’s why any of us have talent – to honor and glorify our maker. Our talents are not meant to bring us glory. Yes, we will get recognized for using our talents, but we should pass on that recognition to the One who created us with the distinct and beautiful talent.

My challenge and hope for the rest of this Christmas season is that I can see how God uses people in their everyday tasks to bring Him glory. How does just being who we are give Him honor? Because of this challenge, I pray that I’m in a position where I can applaud the Lord numerous times each day for His power and majesty.

Young Christmas Characters

Generational Shift in Movie Genre

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATis the season for sappy Christmas movies! I am a sucker for heartwarming Christmas tales. I even enjoy the incredibly lame ones. There’s something redeeming about the main character discovering that the season of Christmas, and life in general, is about more than self-indulgence and personal-gratification.

As I watched these movies while I was growing up, I noticed that the main character was commonly a rich, self-reliant, arrogant adult who “had it all.” As the movie progressed, that character usually found love and realized how much they’ve actually been missing in their self-centered world.

Now that I’m an adult, the story hasn’t changed, but the age of the character has. At first, I thought it was just because I was older, but in reality, the characters are actually younger. They are no longer 40 or 50-year-old people going through a mid-life crisis, they’re individuals in their 20s or 30s who live a self-focused life.

What does this tell us about our culture? These stories used to be about the liberation of a lost soul who needed to discover the “true meaning of Christmas.” Now, it’s about a naïve young person who thinks they know it all, but realizes they have a lot to learn.

Christmas movies tend to be fun, heartwarming films. Now, are they a more accurate reflection of the nature of our society? Most statistics that report Millennials as being the most entitled and selfish generation would say that these movies are a true representation of our young society. Many young people are self-oriented and egocentric. Many young people think they know it all and won’t admit that they have no clue. Many young people believe their way of life and their view of the world is best. Current Christmas movie trends seem to respond to this reality.

It may seem harsh, but perhaps this should be a wake-up call to our younger generations. We do have a lot to learn and there are plenty of people in this world who are willing to teach us. The majority of people in this world are satisfied living a life that is very different than ours so perhaps our way of life isn’t the only way to live, nor is it the best. There are numerous people who know, through experience, what it means to truly give. Not to donate money to a good cause, but to give of your heart and mind. These same people know what sacrifice is all about. Sacrifice isn’t giving up Facebook for a month or Starbucks for a week, but to truly live without. In some situations, this includes the basic necessities of life. There are people in our communities who also know what it is to truly love. To serve others and always put others before yourself. There is a lot of wisdom that comes from learning from others, and embracing the life and experience of another person.

I challenge the young this season to seek the thoughts, ideas and heart of someone older. Learn from them. Reflect on their life. See the world through their eyes. If we spend more time learning from people with history, experience and knowledge, then maybe we won’t have to walk the path of the majority of these Christmas characters who think they have life figured out only to learn that someone older than them understands the true beauty and nature of a life lived outside one’s self.

As a young generation, if this isn’t really how you act, then it’s important that you realize the people who make these films see you that way… so, what are you doing that gives that impression? Perhaps this Christmas season is the time to analyze whether or not your actions reflect the character of your true heart. If so, then your challenge is to influence more people with your beautiful heart. If not, then your challenge is to make change in your life so your actions do reflect your heart.