A Few Thoughts on Whitney Houston and the Grammys

Most of the world knows by now that Whitney Houston passed away on Saturday. The outpouring of sympathy and sentiments has been what is expected for who may have been the greatest singer of all time. She was given a wonderful tribute last night at the Grammys. And in countless news stories, interviews, and programs people are expressing shock, dismay, sadness, and a multitude if other feelings.

This is an extremely sad story of a wonderful talent who met with a tragic end to her life. However, the question has to be asked: Why do people seem to respond differently when a superstar dies unexpectedly than when a “regular” person dies unexpectedly?

One reason I believe this mindset exists is because secretly in the hearts of “regular” people lives the same distorted perspective that lives in the heart of many superstars. It’s the human tendency – and for many a conscious choice – to chase the dream vs. The Dream Giver (God).

I can’t say this is what happened to Whitney Houston, but this is what happens to a lot of people in our society. Actually this mindset is nothing new. It was actually addressed by God in Deuteronomy 8 when He admonished the nation of Israel before they entered their promise land. He told them that life was about to get really good. And when it did, they had better not forget the One who made it happen, or else it would cause them to lose everything.

Why is it so important that you don’t pursue your dream at the exclusion of the Dream Giver? When seasons of attention, fame, and stardom pass, and it seems like your dream is now fading from memory instead of flowing into your future, what will you have to hold on to? Whether you are in front of big crowds or not, when the Dream Giver is your focus, you will have the foundation, inspiration, and direction for the next adventure of your life. Transitions don’t have to be tragic, they can be triumphant.

In today’s cult of celebrity, as exhibited by the Grammys and other award shows, people are worshipped for their talent and exploits as much as if not more than God. When that happens, celebrities are ascribed glory that should only be given to God. In Hebrew the word “glory” originally means “weight” or “heaviness.” Humans were not created to carry the weight of God’s glory, only to reflect it. When the weight and pressure of carrying the glory of man-made fame, i.e. having to keep pleasing people or shocking them so you stay relevant in their minds and wallets year after year, people eventually crack under the pressure. They end up doing things they felt was necessary to temporarily or permanently escape the pressure of their lives.

No matter how we have idolized them, superstars – like all of us – are frail human beings who eventually will break down if enough pressure is applied. The list is staggering of those who “died too soon” over the last couple of years (or even the last 40 years) under tragic circumstances that involved drugs and/or alcohol:

  • Michael Jackson
  • Heath Ledger
  • Amy Winehouse
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Elvis Presley
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Chris Farley
  • Janis Joplin
  • Judy Garland
  • Many more…

And sadly we must now add Whitney Houston to that list. We may never fully know the circumstances of her death, but we have heard by her own admission some of the struggles of the last few years of her life. I pray that we all learn from these individuals and ask God to give us a new mindset for the proper way to appreciate our own and others’ talents, achievements, and accomplishments.

James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Lights. He loves to bless His children with amazing talent that blesses the world. What He doesn’t love is when His children worship the talent – their own or someone else’s – more than they worship Him.

So let me ask you, are you chasing the dream or the Dream Giver?

Thrive on purpose!

Paul Wilson, Jr.