You can be President!!! Really???

I remember watching “The Muppet Show” when I was six years old. The Muppet Show was one of my favorite shows when I was a child … my favorite character was Gonzo … not sure why. It always seemed like every day was a party on the Muppet Show – there was always lot’s of singing, dancing and humor. I also remember each episode being structured around a moral lesson with different moral musings built-into the dialogue. This might involve Fozzie telling a lie to Kermit and then later confessing the truth which served to teach all the boys and girls about being honest. In one episode I remember Miss Piggy talking to Gonzo about what they wanted to be when they “grew up.” Gonzo tells Miss Piggy that he wants to be something conventional, like a plumber or school teacher. Miss Piggy responds to Gonzo and tells him that she plans on being President of the United States. Gonzo and Miss Piggy begin to argue because Gonzo thinks her ambitions are unrealistic. But, Miss Piggy holds her ground and insists that she can be a president of the United States someday. The moral lesson begins to surface as Miss Piggy proceeds to argue that ANYONE can be President of the United States! All you need to do is try really hard and want it really bad and you too – six year old Matt watching The Muppets while eating Spaghettios – can be the President of the United States! As a matter of fact, you can accomplish anything you want to accomplish or be anything you want to be, you just have to put your mind to it.

Fast forward 28 years from that Muppet Show episode and I’m now resigned to the fact that I’ll never be President of the United States. I think I can say that I’m finally at peace knowing that I will never become President or win the Nobel Prize. I think I’m at peace knowing that I will never be a professional football player, astronaut, brain surgeon or accomplish any number of aspirations I was told I could if I just “put my mind to it” … if I really, really wanted it bad enough. I think I’ve made my peace with this but it took a little while for me to get there.

So, what went wrong? Are there actually limitations on what I was created to do and be in this life? Does my calling and purpose come with a set of parameters? Was Miss Piggy’s moral message a lie? The simple answer is: yes.

I watched the movie “Rudy” on TV a few months ago. The movie was based on a guy named Rudy who is trying to earn the affection of a lousy father by playing football for the University of Notre Dame. Rudy was pintsized and had very little football playing ability to speak of. However, Rudy eventually endears himself to the coaching staff and players and is allowed to play in one game his senior year. As I watched this movie recently I realized that the entire movie was based on Miss Piggy’s lie. Rudy had bought into the message that I heard when I was six years old. When we extrapolate the emotions connected to Rudy’s struggle and plight and we observe the story objectively, it’s actually quite sad. The objective truth is: this guy had no business playing football for the University of Notre Dame. He was undersized and did not have the skill to play at an elite division one University and he spends his entire college career getting knocked into next week by real (big) football players. He’s lucky he didn’t get himself killed. The Hollywood version has Rudy eventually convincing the coaches and players with his tenacity (they call it “heart” in the movie). The storyline was based on Rudy believing that he could be anything he wanted to be if he wanted it bad enough. But, in actuality he couldn’t. Rudy was only allowed to play in that final game because he was able to marshal pity from the players and coaching staff. He did not play in that game because God had created him to be good at football or because he merited any playing time. I actually think Rudy is a sad story of an unloved son who rejected how he was created. Rudy rejected who he was and what God had created him to be.

For most of us the encumbrances of being a “grown up” attack the message of naivety that says we can be anything we want to be. We can certainly try to be anything we want to be – as a matter of fact we can devote our entire life trying to be or accomplish something – but trying is where our journey tragically ends. This cold hard truth can create a crisis of calling and purpose, especially when we factor-in cultural and family pressures. I know many people who are struggling through their adult life because of Miss Piggy’s lie. They’re trying so desperately to be who THEY want to be and accomplish what THEY want to accomplish (like Rudy) and it’s failing them. This invariably leads to a crisis of calling and purpose. Sometimes this crisis presents as insecurity or low self-wroth because we never quite measure-up to the things we were told we could accomplish. Sometimes it presents as a fake and inflated self-image. Sometimes we walk around with a Napoleon complex or a chip on our shoulders. Sometimes we just hate ourselves for not being as smart, fast, good looking or capable as next guy. The good news is that the Bible offers an incredible answer to this crisis of calling and purpose. Paul writes the following exhortation related to spiritual gifts in Romans 12:3: “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” What a freeing statement! It’s about God’s allotment. When healthy, the body of Christ functions with unique parts that are working in unison to advance the Gospel message. This is where God wants us to find our life’s calling and purpose.

There is an extraordinary liberation that comes when we embrace the way God has gifted us – the identity that God has for us! This liberation comes when we understand that God made us different for a reason. God made Rudy to be 5’5 and 150 lbs for a reason. It’s not about being what we want to be or accomplishing what we want to accomplish; this will only leave us frustrated and empty. It is all about being who God wants us to be and accomplishing what he wants us to accomplish. Perhaps God wants some of us to be Olympians, brain surgeons or even President of the United States. Or, maybe God wants some of us to be stay-at-home moms, chemists, school teachers, engineers, pastors, factory workers, food servers, police officers and missionaries. God can definitely use those people in extraordinary ways too. When you are who God wants you to be you will find an incredible freedom from the lie that Miss Piggy told. You will expend you time and resources more wisely. You will find a much deeper and lasting peace. You will live a more contented and purposeful life within the unique calling that God has for you.

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About Matt Brecht
Lead Pastor of NorthPointe Church

10 Responses to You can be President!!! Really???

  1. Mike Alling says:

    Pastor Matt,

    Great observations.

    Your post resonates with me as well; I’m 32 and still trying to figure out what “I’m suppose to be when I grow up.” I’m in a good career, but do not really feel like I belong. I was so focused on getting on with fire I stopped and asked myself if I should. Now I have a desire to delve deeper in the medical field, but then wonder if I am missing a more “spiritual” calling by passing on seminary? I guess the answers might be to daily depend on God and seek to be led by him.

    Blessings,
    Mike

    • mattbrecht says:

      Thanks Mike. What you’re dealing with is the other side of the coin. You know you were created for God’s purposes over your own and you’re ready to respond to that, but sometimes that calling purpose isn’t made clear for a while. Sometimes God has things to teach us before he moves us in a more specific direction. Good thoughts Mike! Thanks for sharing. I’ll keep praying for you.

  2. Phil Coleman says:

    Good thoughts, Matt. Thanks. Miss Piggy used the same tactic I find in Genesis 3 that the serpent used: State a truth, but make it all about something other than God. I think its true that “I can do anything, or be anything I want, if I put my mind to it.” God gives me free will to make that choice. You make the point well that the right choice is to ascertain and follow what God wants for me. Miss Piggy is just making sure I am aware of an alternate choice and is trying to make it look more attractive to me. She doesn’t have to lie to do that. Free will is a great thing God gives us. God doesn’t originate sin. It is just a by-product of free will. It happens when I choose me instead of God. I hope this makes sense (at least 8 drafts later).

    • mattbrecht says:

      Makes sense to me Phil. Our sin nature makes free will very self-focused doesn’t it? If our nature were holy we might be more inclined to pursue an identity that please God … and ultimately provide us with a more fulfilled and peaceful life because we’ve taken the yoke of Christ and not our own.

  3. Kermit says:

    Hi Matt!

    This is interesting with great points. While I agree that Ms. Piggy’s moral lesson may have been an understatement of reality, how would you suggest her rephrase that? Telling kids that they can be whatever they want seems to carry much more “life” than immediately instilling limitations. I guess I am just happy she took a much more liberal perspective on life pursuits than a limiting one, leaving it in the parents hands to focus those “outrageous dreams” of being a stunt man or an ice cream truck driver, for example.

    So where is the balance? On one extreme you have people that “dream” irrationally, and on the other you have those that fear dreaming at all due to fear of personal failure or failure to mess up God’s plan. Speaking of our identity in Christ, it is the role of a servant to wait for the Lord to make decisions for them, so they don’t lead their own lives astray. However, it is the role of a son and daughter to make decisions in co-laborship with the Lord. I think you’d agree, from your mention of God giving us specific allotments, that we are all created so very uniquely with our own talents and skillsets. Is it possible that the things we want to do in life, coming from the passions and abilities that God put there, are in fact God’s will when walked out?

    My apologies if this is confusing! I’m only writing because I absolutely LOVE dreaming big with God, and even more…doing it stress free! And I do feel Ms. Piggy may have been on to something more than initially assessed.

    I love you so much Mr. Matt! Thanks for sharing…you are amazing:)

    • mattbrecht says:

      Good thoughts Kermit. I had no idea I’d be graced with an actual member of the cast. What an honor. 🙂

      I think the way I’d answer your question is: be who God wants you to be … nothing more … nothing less. A secular version of this message might be: do what you’re good at and love to do.

      Here’s how this plays-out for me. Jenny and I spend a great deal of time, effort and money trying to identify the wonderfully unique qualities, abilities, skills and limitations of our kids. We don’t impugn these qualities on them (skills and limitations) we simply try to help them identify them. But, I think we owe it to our kids to help them discover how God created them … gifted them … empowered them. For example, if Chase isn’t gifted and inclined to play football then I’m not going to pressure him to do it. I also want my kids to understand that the universe doesn’t ultimately revolve around them and that the more noble good is to be a contributor – both within the church and society – and not the centerpiece. I think we owe it to them to help them “not think too highly of themselves (Rom 12:3)” while at the same time instilling a deep sense of worth and value in who God wants them to be. There’s a huge amount of dream-space within the context of God’s calling and purpose on our life. As matter of fact, I dream bigger now as a pastor fulfilling my purpose and calling then I did at any other point in my life. The difference is, I’m not the center of the universe and my gifts and abilities are being used by God to their fullest capacity. I think this is more biblical and pragmatically it’s a much better place to be.

  4. Kermit says:

    Brilliant, thanks for clarifying! Great perspective:) You truly are an amazing Father!

    I have to ask, doesn’t the universe revolve around God’s people in a sense? I mean, God gave His Son so that we could share in His identity, so that we could have communion with God and be seen as co-heirs with Christ. I understand we shouldn’t see ourselves as if the universe revolves around us, because its very unproductive and everyone hates a snob. But then there’s Jesus, who clearly was a BIG DEAL and as God incarnate, He was thee Center of the Universe. However, He was also the most productive human being of all time. So now that we share with Christs identity and are seated at the right hand of the Father…. can we increase our productivity/fruitfulness/efficiency by understanding this aspect of our identity? Do you think God sees us as only contributors?

    • mattbrecht says:

      Thanks Kermit. I appreciate your kind words. Good questions.

      My answer is: no, I don’t think Christians are the center of the universe in any sense. I don’t think we are in any way equal with Christ in either a functional or positional sense. We are God’s adopted children and Christ is the center of our union. We share (co-labor) in his ministry through our adoption as sons and daughters but he is our head and, not only that, all things have been created by him, through him and FOR him (Col 1:15-20).

      I think Jesus’ cousin John answers your question better than I can. Check it out in John 3, beginning in verse 22:
      “After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized— 24 for John had not yet been thrown into prison. Therefore there arose a discussion on the part of John’s disciples with a Jew about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.” 27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

      I know John wasn’t Jesus but I think his instruction was sound. We must decrease and he must increase … and believing that we are more important, powerful or capable than we actually are does not increase Christ or decrease us. It does the opposite and I think it sets us up for huge failure and disappointment.

      • Kermit says:

        Thanks for your prompt reply! While I am very hesitant on some of the points made above, this is such delightful and beautiful conversation. I will definitely have to read your other posts- this is my first one. Thanks for your time and words. Here’s to continually learning and growing in communion with Jesus!

        -Travis

      • mattbrecht says:

        Thansk Travis. I agree. Great conversation.

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