Idol Thoughts On Investing in Others

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There have only been a few new shows April and I have really enjoyed throughout our marriage. For the most part we stick with the classics from the Dick Van Dyke Show, to I Love Lucy, Wonder Years, or West Wing. But having seen those programs a million times, as great as they are, I sometimes miss the simple joy of anticipating a fresh installment of new program we plan to watch together.

There was the show American Dreams that debuted shortly after we got married that we got into for the first couple seasons until it fell apart in the third and was ultimately cancelled. It became our Sunday evening tradition to set our VCR, come home from church, bake some pizza rolls, pray the recording worked, and hit play. Those were sweet and simple times.

At some point, some close friends convinced us to try the show 24. It was already four or five seasons in when we gave it a chance. I would rent DVDs of back seasons of the show from a hole in wall spot in our neighborhood that I swear was a cover for a drug business. They never charged late fees and always told me to keep the videos as long as I wanted. A little sus.

There is one program we’ve stuck with throughout our 21+ years of marriage. American Idol. Judge me if you want. (That’s kind of what the show is all about).

I thought about it the other day, what it is about that show that’s captivated us for so long. Why we keep tuning in again and again, even when I felt like they should have paid us to put up with some of their previous talent judges. Beyond some of their silly antics, there is something fundamentally good about that show that I find touching and even inspiring at times. A theologian friend of mine once encouraged me, partially joking, to quit watching the inane program. Why didn’t we?

As I’ve reflected on this show we’ve been loyal to for over two decades, three themes stand out. First, they care about people’s stories. Second, they invest in their potential. Last, they celebrate their progress. No matter who you are, these characteristics are worth considering and adopting. You may never launch someone to fame and fortune, that’s probably not what’s going to be best for their soul anyway, but you can radically change a person’s life.

The show pictures an outward way of living, an others orientation, we all need reminding of. It’s easy to be absorbed by our immediate needs and concerns. It’s easy to become myopic. It can be challenging to listen to people, to empathize with what has led them to this moment, and to find ways to encourage and even invest in them moving forward. Even with a show all about creating celebrities, I’ve found encouragement for the biblical value of not looking out for your own interests, but also the interests of others (Phil. 2:4).