You're Somebody's Rock Star
In my mind, I'm a drummer in a rock band and I’ve got long hair, earrings, tattoos on every inch of both arms. Think David Grohl from FooFighters.
But in reality, I’m bald, middle-aged, and wear dark blue suits to my job at a large corporate law firm. I do play the drums in my basement and crank up the music in my car so loud that I get looks from other drivers at stop lights. Oh, and I’m a wild dancer, but just in my living room.
I would have loved to have been a rock star. I was in a rock band in high school, but I didn’t practice enough to be good. If I could tell my younger self anything, I’d say “work harder.” Then perhaps I could have become a professional drummer. Move over Ringo Starr and Neil Peart, here comes Bill Wichterman.
But I am still a rock star to some people in my life: to my kids (when they were younger, at least), to some people earlier in the career I pursued on Capitol Hill and in the White House. Everyone is a rock star to someone else – somebody looks up to you and is thrilled when you give them your attention.
The question is what do you do with those people who look up to you? Do you arrogantly brush past them on your way to the stage, or do you stop to smile and engage them in kindness?
One practical way to imitate Christ is to use your influence to serve others, beginning with your admirers. Jesus washed the feet of his biggest admirers, his disciples. Imagine the impact you can have on those who already esteem you.
God loves each of us the same, which is infinitely. But the world’s valuation system puts some people higher and some lower. This “power pyramid” tempts us to focus on those above us on the social ladder. Lots of people would like to serve the President or an American Idol winner or a Hollywood celebrity or the Super Bowl quarterback, but fewer people aspire to serve the interns in their office. Yet those interns—or the equivalent people of low position in your world—would go home with a smile if you remembered their names, took an interest in them, or went to lunch with them. I remember feeling like a million bucks when a chief of staff to a member of Congress remembered my name when I was a staff assistant. In my world, he was a rock star, and I was thrilled that he noticed me.
This is where the otherwise twisted pattern of power relationships can be used to good advantage for God’s purposes: serve everyone alike, powerful and powerless, but pay special attention to the outsized influence you can have on “lowly people.”
The Apostle Paul wrote that we shouldn’t be proud but “be willing to associate with people of low position” (Rom. 12:16). Sadly, by spending so much energy trying to maneuver ourselves into position to influence people of high position, we neglect the areas where we can have the greatest influence today. It’s not wrong to seek to influence people at the top of the pyramid. When you have the opportunity, take it. And some people are specifically called to minister to those in leadership. But service to “the least of these” is readily available to all of us. We’re foolish to neglect the opportunities we have already been given, preferring those we have not been given.
Dr. Dick Halverson is an example of one who knew well the power pyramid but chose to ignore it. Dr. Halverson served as the chaplain to the United States Senate from 1981 to 1994. He ministered to some of the most powerful women and men on the planet, but he also knew the names of the elevator operators, the shoeshine men, and the mailroom clerks and loved them as if they were all senators. For him, there were no unimportant people, just people made in God’s image whom he was called to love. For his vivid imitation of Jesus, he was loved, admired, and respected by the powerful and the powerless.
Think about the people with whom you have rock star status, and begin by serving them. Be kind and generous, modeling for them how they should serve those for whom they are rock stars.
In God’s economy, everyone is of equal rank—a person made in the image of God with eternity in their heart. Begin serving where your influence will be powerful and effective.