The boat rocks gently back and forth as you slide into the cool water. You feel your feet securely fastened into the bindings on the fiberglass board as the tension on the rope builds. A rush of adrenaline surges through your veins as you lift out of the water and begin to cut across the surface of the water like a Ginsu knife through a mango (mmm… mango). This is my life… as a wakeboarder.
Well, at least it was for about 10 minutes on Monday. The first and only time I’ve ever been wakeboarding. But there was one good picture taken, which is all you really need these days to convince others that you’re good at something. Just one good pic for Facebook and I can add “Wakeboarder” to my profile and most of my “friends” would now assume that I am more awesome than they used to think (which is difficult, I know).
Social networking sites give us the ability to control our image more than ever before. We can put up anything we want, not to mention keep off anything we want. And we custom build the person we want to be known as. Don’t get me wrong. I love Facebook and Twitter, they are unbelievable tools that have the potential to help keep people far more connected than they ever could have been before. The problem isn’t Facebook, the problem is me. It’s my heart. It’s my selfish desire to be respected and admired. It’s the temptation to associate myself with things that are “cool” or “respectable” so that people will then think I’m “cool” and “respectable” by association. If I want people who like Indie music to like me, I just need to add Fleet Foxes and Arcade Fire to my favorite artist list. If I want to look intelligent, I add a few books and authors to my profile and drop the occasional quote in my status update. I can associate myself with anyone at a moments notice. And by doing so, I can draw people into believing that whatever is true about that person or group is also true about me, on some level.
People also do this by having bookshelves full of books they’ve never read. If you want people to think you’re a good leader, get a couple of John Maxwell books and a President’s autobiography and your there. Who cares that you can barely lead yourself from the couch to the kitchen to grab a bag of chips while you stare vacantly at the television for hours on end. If you want people to think you’re cultured an intelligent you pick up a few really old editions of Plato, Shakespeare, and Hemingway and throw them up on the shelf…done. This is a more old-school way of doing it, but it’s the same thing. It’s just gotten much easier and quicker these days.
The danger here is that we are tempted to become veracious self-promoters with very little interest in actual growth and development. We become surface-obsessed. Who needs actual growth when you can just short-cut it and skip to the end, right. It’s kind of like a company that spends 99% of its budget on marketing and 1% on research and development. Eventually reality catches up and all the hype is revealed for what it really is…lies.
The truth is, anyone my age that is going to be a good wakeboarder is already a good wakeboarder. It’s not going to be true of me…ever. So instead of trying to be the “Dos Equis” guy (“Most Interesting Man in The World” commercials… just in case you are better than I am and don’t watch any tv) who does everything well. I should focus on what I can do…
What I can do is focus my efforts on genuine growth in my God-given calling, skills and abilities so that I can actually be good at something. So that I can actually become someone worth respecting and a leader worth following.
What I can do is feel free to make fun of myself and be open about all of the things that I am not good at so that I can be a source of hope (instead of discouragement) for those struggling against the unattainable goal of perfection.
What I can do is lean deeper and deeper into the gospel that tells me that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone because Christ has already measured up for me in every way that matters, therefore I am free to be sub-par at all kinds of stuff.
BTW – For those of you who are my friends on Facebook, hopefully you could sense the extreme sarcasm of my latest status updates and don’t find me to be offensively hypocritical with this post…