How I Disappointed Mr. T

Watch about a minute of this:

Hopefully you didn’t watch much more than a minute. If you did you’re likely tearing through your house looking for scratch & sniff stickers, Hulk Hogan T-shirts, and stonewashing your jeans—anything to magically transfer you back to the wonderful world of the 80’s. The 80’s were amazing.

And also deadly.

Mr. T’s message here isn’t as bad as it could be. Actually Mr. T could be helpful as he says, “you don’t have to be famous to be somebody”. Unfortunately, that message was drowned out by the pervasive narcissism of the 80’s. Us children of the 80’s grew up hearing this type of stuff everywhere.

Over time, “be somebody” equated to “be famous”; and this contrary to Mr. T’s intentions. I thought of T after watching that Mark Driscoll* video that people were discussing last week. At some point in that video Driscoll mentioned a pastor that had been invited to the President’s prayer breakfast. And he said these words, “He’s somebody”. Immediately I thought of Mr. T’s song.

“Be somebody!”

Smokey the Bear came to my school when I was six and informed me that “only I could prevent forest fires”. Captain Planet told me that with his help I could be used to take pollution down to zero. But the most influential to me were Bo Jackson, Wayne Gretzky, and Michael Jordan. These three ProStars told me that I could be anything that I wanted to be if I set my mind towards it and worked really hard. I could be a somebody…just like them.

So this tiny kid with big ears from a small town in Missouri set out to become a professional baseball player. I worked hard. Practiced hours every night after school. Studied pitchers deliveries. I set my mind to it and I worked hard.

And I never even played one game of minor league baseball.

I was a nobody…

Then I got saved.

Maybe this will do it. I may not make it to the major leagues but I’ve discovered what really matters. If I’m a better follower of Jesus and a better pastor and writer and husband and daddy and all of these things, then maybe I’ll be somebody. So, I found my niche.

“This is how I’ll be somebody. I’m doing it Mr. T!”

And so I compete with other people in my niche. Forget those suckas out there in the world trying to be ball players and stuff. I’m doing what really matters. And I’m going to excel at this. I’ll sacrifice more than any of you guys. You want “radical” I’ve got your radical! And so I pursue being radical as a means to my ultimate end; namely, pleasing Mr. T.

Rather than actually being “gospel-centered” I turn being gospel-centered into a drive to “be somebody!” I’ll be the most gospely gospel-filled writer and pastor. I’ll be drenched in the gospel of being gospel-centered. And then I’ll “be somebody!”

Or maybe I’ll buck all those trends and chart out my own course. I’ll write something about how “radical” is just a fad and being gospel-centered is just a movement. And I’ll show my superiority by being above these movements and seeing right through them. And then I’ll “be somebody”!”

Inwardly I become restless. I despair when I’m not noticed, prideful if I am. Mr. T’s approval seems to be fickle. Maybe I’m somebody and maybe I’m not. And so my relationships start to suffer. People become a means to an end. Unity with other people is centered upon me and my desire to “be somebody!” And my preaching is only a means to show my awesomeness. I might even come across as humble. But that’s only to show that I’m somebody—a humble somebody—the bestest most humblest somebody’s of all the body’s that has ever been.

And I destroy churches and my own soul. Maybe I am a somebody, but it’s not a good somebody! Being somebody wrecks churches and souls.

The solution

You might think that the solution is to say, “I’m a somebody in Jesus”. I don’t think it is. That’s what got this whole mess started. I’m convinced that the only solution to no longer being a disciple of Mr. T is to be an actual disciple of Jesus. To really meditate on the Cross and be slain by it. I mean really slain. Not just slain so that I can parade myself around as one that has been slain. Really slain.

The solution is to fix our eyes on Jesus. His bigness. His power. His infinite worth. His love. His power. His humility. His everything. And so somehow my boasting slowly becomes in the Lord and not myself.

Be somebody?!?!?

No thanks! Jesus is the only Somebody. I’m just thankful for the grace to be included in His kingdom. No, I’m not a nobody. Nor am I a somebody. I’m just His. And that has me joyously content.

Sorry to disappoint you Mr. T!

*If you think this article is a creative way to talk about or critique Mark Driscoll you’ve missed the message. This article is about an epidemic within our culture that has invaded our church and is killing us. It’s about what is going on in my own soul. To think that this is somehow about Mark Driscoll shows the truthfulness of what I am saying—we view everything through the lens of celebrity.

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