Lance Armstrong: A Product of This Generation

Have you followed Lance Armstrong? Oprah’s recent interview confirmed long suspected blood doping though he previously refuted past accusations. I find it really hard to fault the guy – really. Sure he’s responsible for his behavior (living out consequence), but in a way he’s a victim caught in the skirmish between self-differentiation and cultural expectation.

We all want heroes. People we put on pedestals to admire. Our culture demands idols – persons we look up to and desire to emulate. This need reaches as far back as Israel’s cry for a king – the story of Saul. The problem with heroes is we imagine them to be far better than they really are in true life. No one can possibly live up to the false perception we’ve conjured. Ultimately every “hero” is just a frail insecure human being. There is no perfect hero – no super hero. Emulating the positive characteristics of someone we admire is one thing, but to worship an image is another. You’ve crossed the line in hero worship. Perhaps culture can be blamed for the bigger than life expectations. Hero making is a lose-lose proposition.

I think the Armstrong story is a word of caution for every wannabe hero. A couple of thoughts:

Don’t believe the hype. As much as people may praise you, you’re just not that good. That sounds harsh, but it is truth. When you believe your hype, you step into the pride that comes just before the fall.

Don’t find your worth in performance. When your performance is praised, remember your identity isn’t in performance. Given enough praise, one feels appreciation and affirmation are only realized in outstanding performance. Don’t be driven to perform. Don’t crave the affirmation. You’re more than a performance.

Enjoy the fifteen minutes of fame – if it comes. There was another just fifteen minutes before you and there will be another fifteen minutes after you. Don’t seek the limelight. Let it find you – if that’s God’s plan for His humble servant.

Life is more about authentic intimacy than performance based relationships. Look for relationships with people that want to know you for you and not you for perceived accomplishment.

Remember who you are and from where you came. Humility is an essential characteristic in the people God chooses to use.