Make ’em Famous

Posted: March 18, 2021 in Uncategorized

Some of you already know this, but I spent my first years in ministry as a youth leader and I loved it but there was something I just found maddening about it. You see I was working with a lot of really great kids, but when I turned on the news, the only time young people usually showed up was when they had committed some heinous crime. Those stories always show up front and center, but the ones who were doing great stuff, might have gotten a mention at the end of the show if there was time. It broke my heart. I was in tune with what was happening with kids. Sure some of them did some bad things, but there were also a lot of kids who were wise beyond their years making real contributions to society, but they really didn’t get that much attention. That just seemed wrong to me and it still does. How about you?

I was reminded of a youth event where I was the speaker. It was a lock in and sometimes when I do those kind of events I will also do some sort of art project with the students or else just sit there and create with the kids. On this particular night there was a student there from New York City. This guy had skills way beyond his years and it was clear he was heavily influenced by graffiti. As we talked he mentioned how much he loved to do his graffiti on the streets. We had struck up a rapport so I asked him something I have always wanted to know. The world is so brilliant, but why don’t they do their work on something like canvas or wood or something they own and can sell. Some of this work could hang in the greatest galleries in the world, but instead they do it illegally on other people’s property and end up getting arrested or worse. The young man thought about my question for a moment and then said, “If I did that, I wouldn’t get “fame.” At this point, I will admit I was feeling a bit frustrated. “Fame? what fame, you have a tag that only a small community of people actually know. Otherwise you work in total anonymity. Almost no one knows who you are. That’s not fame.” Those were my thoughts, but I shared them a lot more gently. I don’t know if I go through, but here’s why I share that story. This young man, a genuinely nice kid as I recall, sought fame by committing a crime. He could have been seen in the art world as a major talent, instead he was seen as property owners and a vandal, a criminal and a nuisance. I hope he’s changed his view, but part of this is our problem as a society.

Somehow we have got to flip the script. We have got to get much better at praising our young people for doing good. We have got to do better at encouraging good behavior and we have got to show them positive examples. We have to make the good ones famous. I’m reminded of another graffiti artist I met, or maybe better stated an ex graffiti artist. You see he had an art teacher who saw his work and encouraged him to change his point of view. Through the encouragement of that art teacher, this young man saw a video by a speed painter named Denny Dent and started to practice. He started going into music venues and painting live and a funny thing happened. People started to take notice. Today David Garibaldi is a nationally sought after artist and motivational speaker. His paintings have sold raising over 1 million dollars for charity, plus his speaking fees have provided him with a really good living. He ended up being fourth place a few years ago on America’s Got Talent and more recently he was the warm-up act on the Kiss Farewell Tour. A little encouragement changed the course of his life. On a smaller scale the same thing happened to me. I am way I am today at least in part because a pastor found my gift and showed me how I could use it the glory of God.

Who can you encourage today? How can you sow into the life of a next generation artist? How can you find someone doing good and make them famous?

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