Amy Grant has had a fascinating career.
Over the course of four decades, her album sales have surpassed $30 million and her songs have been streamed more than a billion times. She helped pave the way for Christian music to find a place on the larger stage of entertainment, becoming the first contemporary Christian artist to have a number 1 hit on the pop charts and the first to perform at the Grammys, where she has also won six awards across her career.
Now she is set to join George Clooney, Gladys Knight, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Tania León, and U2 as part of the latest class of Kennedy Center honorees.
Grant said of the honor, “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine ever receiving this prestigious Kennedy Center Honors. I cannot wait to celebrate with my fellow honorees, friends, and family. Thank you for widening the circle to include all of us.”
Widening the circle, however, only happened because the “Queen of Christian Pop,” as Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein described her, earned the respect and admiration necessary to make it happen. And, in so doing, Grant offers us an important reminder for how all Christians should approach the larger culture in which we live.
A warning about perceived “persecution”
As I’ve written before, the world doesn’t have to like our faith or agree with our morals to respect our abilities and talents. And when we develop our gifts to the point that we earn their respect, it can open the door to share God’s love and truth with people who might otherwise never consider either.
That won’t happen, though, if we act as if we are entitled to a place at the table without putting in the work to earn it.
To be sure, there are times when Christians are excluded or passed over because people disagree with our faith. Jesus promised that would be the case, so we shouldn’t really be surprised (John 15:18–20).
However, most people don’t really care. It’s far more common that we receive the respect we deserve. No more, no less.
As such, one of the temptations against which we must guard is attributing our own shortcomings to the prejudice of others. If we’re passed over for a promotion or a new job, for example, it’s a lot easier on our egos to think that the reason is related to our faith than because there was someone else who was just a better fit. And the same principle applies in other realms of life as well.
If we let ourselves fall into the trap of starting to blame everyone but ourselves when things don’t seem to go according to plan, then we will never fulfill the potential that God has instilled in each one of us. But the best way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to work for the admiration of the Lord rather than the respect of other people. When our focus is on him, the opinions of others will begin to matter less, and we will be better positioned to live up to our God-given abilities and gifts.
On whom is your focus today?