I think it’s safe to say that we as humans crave recognition and affirmation and therefore gravitate to power and money and prestige which are overt symbols of this recognition. Everybody wants to be somebody even sometimes to the point of pretending. I know a man who wears hospital scrubs regularly while he is out and about; (though not required for his work) he is quite impressed that “people think I’m a surgeon!” Likewise, a draftsman I know claims he’s an architect. Attending a social event in Los Angeles, CA, I noticed most everyone was very interested in telling you “who” they know or curious to find out if you knew “anyone” (as in celebrities). Isn’t it sad that no one was really interested in the people present? Not long ago, when I was travelling, the door in the “Coach” section of the plane was opened for exit which meant the first class and coach passengers were exiting together. One passenger in first class was furious and created an uproar because she believed “first class passengers should exit first!”
In the corporate world, while we all claim to have a tremendous desire to enjoy our work, we strive to achieve the success levels and associated titles as dictated by that world. I admit I am just as guilty of this as the next person. Truth be told, I get a bit rankled when I hear a “decorator” identify themselves as a “designer”. I have heard MDs have a similar sensitivity to Chiropractors or Optometrists being identified as “Doctors”! While no MD, I spent a lot more time in school to study design and therefore believe my title is justified and I want to ensure others who are not as “deserving” don’t partake of this “glory” without expending the same effort as I did. Yes – the title trap!
Now what if we find ourselves in the enviable position of achieving a certain worldly recognition in terms of fame or fortune or power? What then? A few months ago a friend had suggested I network with someone in a similar field as mine but when I remarked that I had tried, to no avail, he informed me “Well you know, you are connecting with the top “Enchilada” – she’s been on radio and TV…” Unfortunately, eventually, the economy took a toll on this “top Enchilada” as well, which in turn (I believe) caused her to be willing to communicate with me – the regular Burrito!
Several months ago traveling to NY with my daughter, I was upgraded to first class. My daughter, who was traveling with me, had never experienced “first class” so I let her use the upgrade. At first she was quite impressed because she was allowed to board early – she felt important. Later, she remarked that being in first class wasn’t any big deal and on the way back she opted to sit in coach with other family members. Commendable choice based on her realization that at the end of the day, it’s not where we sit but how we relate that really matters.
I realized that God the Father acknowledged this need for affirmation in us humans by affirming His son Jesus while He (Jesus) was in the company of His friends. Scripture says “The heavens opened and a voice said this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased – listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5). God didn’t say this is “my son the talented carpenter” or “my son the biblical scholar” or “my son, your master”; He just said “my son”. I have concluded that the reason we want to be “somebody” is because we are not secure in just being ourselves – sons and daughters of the living God. There’s nothing wrong, mind you, with using our talents to achieve our destiny; the bible tells us “Hard work will give you power, being lazy will make you a slave” (Proverbs 12:24).
I heard a priest remark “I wish I was just a “Regular Joe”. Analyzing most conversations ad nauseum, like I do, I pondered Jesus’ perspective. Jesus was somebody – the Son of God and yet he was quite content to hang out with the “Regular Joes” and even be a “Regular Joe” himself. We never heard of Him asking anyone to address Him by a title or to pay Him any homage. In fact, by His gesture of washing His disciples’ feet, He reinforced the notion that He was a servant. The washing of feet on Maundy Thursday then, is not ceremonial but custodial.
My grandfather used to say “An eagle doesn’t soar so high that it doesn’t need to come down for a drink of water.” See, first class passengers can run out but still have to collect their bags with the lowly coach passengers at baggage claim. I may know a celebrity but that doesn’t make me one. Priests may preach but they are saints and sinners like the rest of us “Regular Joes”. The TV and radio “Enchiladas” need “Burritos” to have a conversation. Imagine the world if we all considered ourselves “Regular Joes” and acted accordingly…