Not long ago I got to spend time with 2 out of 3 Destiny’s Children (Destiny’s Childs? Children of Destiny? I’m not really sure what the plural is here). And today, I reflect on how my life has changed since then. (SEE UPDATE AT THE END OF THIS PIECE)
Michelle Williams was first. She visited Soul City on Sunday to support her friend Dr. Tara Jenkins who was speaking. Michelle could not have been any kinder or more generous with her time. She was not there to be “Michelle Williams” she was there to be Tara’s friend. We hung out in the Soul City offices, talked about her church and mutual friends, talked about her new album and the beautiful direction her music career is taking.
Then we met Beyonce. This simply would not have happened if it were not for our friend Erik. He’s been in the Music Industry long enough and is a man of such high character that he is loved and respected by just about every pop superstar you can think of. The plan was to meet Beyonce at 7:30p before the show. We left for the 3.7 mile trip at 6:30p…we didn’t make it. It took us almost an hour and a half to get to Soldier Field.
By the time we got there, Beyonce’s label rep met us at Will Call and literally RAN us through the tunnels at Soldier Field to get to her in time. Wiping the sweat off my brow (which I would have had to do whether I ran or not) we prepped ourselves for meeting B. We were allowed to go in first, by ourselves. The following is a transcript of that meeting.
Erik: “Hi B! How are you girl (hug). It’s great to see you again. There’s some folks I really want you to meet. These are my pastors, Jarrett and Jeanne Stevens!”
Beyonce: “Oh! Hi! (Jeanne hugs Beyonce) (Jeanne is still hugging Beyonce) (Jarrett hugs Beyonce)
Beyonce: (to Jeanne) “You are SO beautiful! And you smell AMAZING!”
Jeanne: “Thank you! Beyonce, I have wanted to meet you for years. I LOVE your voice. It is so beautiful. And I want you to know that I have been praying for you for years.”
Beyonce: “Oh, thank you, Jeanne. Please keep praying for me. I need it!”
Jeanne: “I will.”
Jarrett: “Beyonce, our church is called Soul City Church, it’s right here in the heart of Chicago. And anytime someone visits for the first time, we give them one of our world famous coffee mugs. And since it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to make on Sunday, we thought we would give it to you now. It’ll instantly become your FAVORITE mug for coffee or tea or whatever you drink to help protect that voice.
Beyonce: “Oh thank you! That is so sweet. I’m so glad you guys are here tonight.”
Jeanne: “We are too! We hope you have a great show!”
Beyonce: “Hey. I have an idea. Why don’t the two of you come on the road with me as my Personal Pastors. We’ll give you and your family your own bus. Jarrett, you and Sean can perform together each night! It’ll be great!”
(in full disclosure, that last line happened in my head while we were smiling for our pictures. But it might have happened if we hadn’t been so late)
After posing for pictures, we headed up to our AMAZING seats (a gift from Beyonce’s manager Jim, who is SUCH a good guy!), and waited for the show to begin…an hour and 15 minutes behind schedule!
As I reflect on last week, I am hit with a surprising sense of disappointment. Much to my surprise…my life hasn’t changed since meeting Michelle and Beyonce.
Despite all of the attention and adoration and idolization that we put on these women and countless other famous people like them…they did very little to change my life. In the week since meeting them, I still had to show up for work. It was still a challenge to be a loving and selfless husband. I wrestled with being a patient father. Our kids still disobeyed us like they had the week before I met Michelle and Beyonce. Times of prayer didn’t come any easier. My view of my true identity in God didn’t change all that much. My life…is still pretty much…the same.
I wonder what I hoped would change. What do I believe will be the fruit in my own life of the celebritization of someone else’s life? Why didn’t 5 minutes with a famous person change the ongoing ordinary minutes of my days? Why didn’t my perception of their perfection do anything to change the reality of my “less than perfect” life?
Could it be that our obsession with Celebritization is actually a subtle form of dehumanization in both directions. We blind ourselves to the humanity of people like Beyonce or Michelle Williams or Chris Tomlin or Steven Furtick or Andy Stanley or Bob Goff or Shauna Neiquist or Jen Hatmaker or whoever your current obsession may be. Our perception of their perfection keeps us from seeing them for who they truly are in all of their own beautiful and broken ways. We dehumanize them by elevating them. And we dehumanize ourselves by believing that we are not as important as them because we’re not as recognized by others. We believe that fame and worth are synonymous. That God is somehow impressed by success. You miss the truth that fame is a messy metric that always leaves you “less than”.
So until one of my Celebrity Demigods can actually do something to change my life, maybe the best way for me to value their humanity and mine is to appreciate them and admire their work and expect very little else from them. To love their books, their music, their preaching, their art…but never more than I love myself. To not dehumanize myself by idolizing them. And to reserve my worship for the only one who actually HAS changed my life! To give my devotion to the one who has brought Divinity to my Humanity. And to offer it always only unto Him.
…unless of course Kelly Rowland is in town…
It’s been some time since the life-changing day that I met Beyonce. As I pause to reflect on my life, I find that it has changed. I have grown. Transformed. Become more of the me I want to be. My marriage is in a sweet season. Our kids are thriving. Our Church is growing both deep and wide. I released a book into the world that I am very proud of.
…and none of that had anything to do with Beyonce.
As powerful as Queen B is…she did not bring about any of this life change. It has, in fact, all been by the loving hand of a Good God. He is the one who is shaping and transforming me into who I am today. And this growth hasn’t happened in one exciting moment. It has been in the slow, ordinary, unseen and un-tweetable moments that make up my everyday life. This is where real growth and transformation takes place. And I thank God that I don’t all of a sudden wake up like this…but rather I live into the invitation and opportunities that God faithfully provides for me…and you…to become all of who we were created to be.
Now…if only could meet Jay-Z!