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Rethinking "Celebrity"

I mentioned in a previous blog about the pursuit of fame and fortune that drove me in my younger days.  In what I now refer to as “my rock and roll dream,” the long-term plan was to work as an engineer by day and a musician by night, writing and recording my material while getting exposure and experience in the local club scene.  It would only be a matter of time until I would record the killer demo, move down to LA, recruit some monster musicians, and launch my career.  From there, it would simply be a short limo trip to fame and fortune.

Of course, that didn’t happen, for a lot of reasons—talent, marketability, maturity, circumstance, and the Small Still Voice that invited me into a better way of life.

I look back at the me who once was, and I see a guy who was driven by internal needs he was not in touch with—affirmation, acceptance, expression, love.  So much of what I did then was to gain the favor of people.  I wanted people to like me, accept me, approve of me, love me.  And I mistakenly thought that fame would bring these things into my life.

I think this is normal, though ultimately unhealthy.  I meet young people all the time whose healthy desire to express the arts are aimed squarely at the unhealthy goal of fame and fortune.  Often I find myself biting my tongue, wishing that they could understand now what only time and experience can teach them.

For myself, I gradually came to realize that there were really only a handful of people in the entire world for whom their opinion really mattered to me—my parents, my wife, my closest friends.  The accolades of everyone else—especially those I didn’t know—could never replace the unconditional love of those who were already in my life, and who already had given me that love.  So I was really striving for nothing.

I say this because some of you know that my son has begun a modeling career.  He is signed with Wilhelmina Models, and is currently in Singapore modeling for a variety of customers.  While his career is still in the fledgling stage, he’s already slated for the cover of Men's Health Magazine (Singapore edition), some runway work for Gucci, and he did a photo shoot with Lea Michele (Rachel on Glee), among other sillier things (auditions for Old Navy, Target, etc.).

The other day, in a moment of introspection, he emailed me this observation: “I’m beginning to realize more and more that modeling, and even ‘celebrity-ism,’ are for those who have no real friends or loved ones.” And while that statement is a little too absolute, I think I understand what he’s trying to say, and beginning to understand.  Our motivations for fame and fortune are driven by the deepest of our human needs—to simply be loved without condition.

Of course, as followers of Jesus Christ, we understand that this human need is only truly fulfilled through our relationship with our Triune God.  We ultimately desire the affirmation and approval of our Abba Father, the friendship and Lordship of Jesus, and the intimacy of the Holy Spirit.  We deeply need to be in community with others and with God.  That’s just how God made us.

I’m truly proud of my son.  Not just because he is finding success in the things he is striving for, but more so because of the person he is becoming in the process.  And I think that’s the point.

[Note: Photo of me with Axl Rose compliments of]


I’m truly proud of my son. Not just because he is finding success in the things he is striving for, but more so because of the person he is becoming in the process. - Can't help but shed tears. I have never heard any positive feedback from my parents. They can see my faults and talk about them endlessly.

The youth looks at this people so they must act as a good example. - James Stuckey

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A rock musician turned rocket engineer turned Christian artist, MANUEL LUZ is a creative arts pastor, working musician, and author. His new book, Imagine That: Discovering Your Unique Role as a Christian Artist, is released by Moody Publishers.