Admiration Attrition? You Betcha!
Hi! Welcome to the third video in our “People Problem” series. Today we are looking at “The Attrition of Admiration.” When I talk about admiration I’m not talking about appreciation, where we appreciate someone’s gifts or qualities. I’m talking about the act of elevating someone to a different status, of putting them on a pedestal. We see their gifts or talents as being so extraordinary that we look up to them.
Admiration is problematic for two reasons. First of all, it creates an artificial barrier between us and another person. We think they’re so extraordinary, they’re almost not even in the same category of human as we are. Secondly admiration puts us in a constant state of poverty. It’s really a message of how extraordinary that other person is, and how ordinary we are.
Admiration Versus Emulation
I think admiration is used as a cop-out for us not becoming the extraordinary human beings that we are really called to become. I’ve been a Christian and in the Christian church my whole life. One of my main problems with the Christian Church is that most of the time we admire Jesus. That might sound like a good thing but let me tell you why I don’t think it is. When we admire Jesus we talk about how perfect he was, how he never made mistakes, how he’s so holy that he doesn’t even seem human. We can’t relate to Jesus; we can only worship him.
My understanding of the Christian faith is not that we admire Jesus; it’s that we emulate him. We look at what Jesus did and we live our lives according to those principles. We spend our time and our energy developing an attitude of compassion and love and courage and faith. We can’t do that if Jesus is on a pedestal. Jesus has to actually be human and walk with us to accomplish that. You’re shifting from admiration into emulation, and I think that is a much more powerful path for us to walk in.
Admiration as Soul-Mirror
This was really made clear to me a few years ago when I was speaking to my spiritual director. I was sharing with her how much I admired this other woman. She was passionate and beautiful and courageous and just flowing in her gifts. I even shared that I was intimidated by her, clearly showing that I had her on a pedestal.
My spiritual director told me that when we find ourselves admiring other people it is because they are showing us gifts and traits and talents that we have but we haven’t yet uncovered in our lives. It’s as though when we are admiring other people our soul is showing us a mirror and saying, “Look – this is what’s inside you. Just bring it to the surface.”
Our Call to Action: Don’t Look Up, Look Within!
I really like that – admiration not as elevating somebody else but as a call to action in excavating our own gifts. When you find yourself admiring somebody, consider what it’s showing you what you’re capable of. Are you willing to turn your attention from elevating them to examining yourself and searching out these places of real power and real gifts in your own life? Can you find them and nurture them and bring them to the surface? It seems to me the world is much better off with less people on the pedestals, and more of us actually living to be the extraordinary people we really are!