While watching the Disney Christmas parade one year, I heard Regis and Kelly and Ryan Seacrest introduce several people as “superstars,” “the one and only,” and “the incredible.” My problem was the fact that I had never heard of most of them. Now I feel like someone who tries to keep up with the culture and listen to what’s impacting students and children. Thus, I must conclude that these words have been overused.
Some of these “superstars” will be nobodies within three years. The phrase “Here today, gone tomorrow” could apply to many actors, actresses, and musicians. Can anyone really name all the “unforgettable” Bond girls? How many blonde “stars” are now working in a restaurant somewhere? Terri and I have often commented to one another that every movie seems to feature a new starlet who is on the fast track and soon never heard from again.
What does it mean to be a “one and only?” It means to be unique, set apart, special, one of a kind. I heard one group singing in that parade, and the lead sounded just like one of the guys in The Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, or a dozen other has-been boy bands. If you sound, look, and dress like everyone else, you are not in the “one and only” category. You are a follower, not a leader.
Forgive me for the secular illustration, but The Beatles were unique. There will only be one group like The Beatles. All other groups in the sixties tried to figure out how to copy them, and most did a bad job of impersonation. There will only be one Elvis. He stands in a unique place in pop culture history. There are thousands of impersonators—young, old, skinny, and fat. (I can, in fact, do an incredible dead Elvis impersonation, but that’s only for my friends.)
What does it mean to be a superstar? Obviously musicians like The Beatles and Elvis fall into that category. In the Vaudeville days, it was folks like Abbott and Costello, Burns and Allen, Jack Benny, and others. They were able to be funny without using profanity. Today’s “superstar” comics have mouths that sound like a combination sewer and toilet. Today’s comics are not funny, and they aren’t superstars. They are immature potty-mouths who would have been sent to the principal’s office for a spanking when I was growing up.
There are no “one of a kind” comic strips or cartoons today. They are poorly drawn and lack imagination. I know of a little boy in our church who was given a DVD set of Huckleberry Hound for Christmas a couple of years ago. He loves it. Why? There’s creativity, humor, better artistry, and plain ole fun in those old cartoons. The Cartoon Network should take off some of the unimaginative junk and put on the old Hanna-Barbera classics.
I hear average singers called “incredible” today. Don’t these people know the difference between average ability to carry a tune and true talent? Half the singers today wouldn’t have a contract if it weren’t for sound enhancements in the studio. Live and in person, they are flat and forgettable. Watching American Idol is a hoot. You see people coming out with voices that could peel paint. But their moms tell them they are talented. Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t parents honestly tell their kids if they can’t sing, instead of encouraging it? And for the sake of humanity, don’t let them audition for American Idol.
What do I think when I contemplate descriptions like “superstar,” “incredible,” and “one of a kind”? Forgive my prejudice, but 4HIM was a “one of a kind” group. No group before or since has been able to match their talent and ability to harmonize. TRUTH was never equaled. Although singers and players were constantly changing, they were “one of a kind” in their ability to take different singers and players and produce the same high quality sound for thirty years.
I think of Vance Havner. He was truly “one of a kind.” His voice and his ability to turn a phrase cannot be matched. His ability to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable was incredible. He was a prophet while maintaining the wit of Will Rogers. As his incredible wit and sharp, pointed truth lives on through Facebook, I’m amazed by the continued reach of his legacy.
I think of Charles Spurgeon. Pastoring in his late teens and preaching to ten thousand every Sunday when such numbers were unheard of—that’s the “Prince of Preachers,” a superstar. Anyone who had his sermons transcribed and sold on the streets alongside the daily newspaper is a star.
I think of D. L. Moody. Almost every ministry Moody started is still flourishing today. Unique. Incredible. A man with a grade-school education who was used by God to shake the world and evangelize the lost.
I think of Billy Graham. We’ll probably never see another like him. He had charisma, passion, and an anointing from God never seen before. He was truly God’s man for the world of television and mass communication.
I think of Ron Dunn. No one could expound the Scriptures like Ron. His ability to blend the eternal with the practical made him a “one of a kind” preacher. The same was true of Manley Beasley. His ministry was his life, his experiences, and his faith. No one could preach one of Manley’s messages because they were too unique.
I think of Warren Wiersbe. Who else has been more used of God to help pastors, laity, Sunday School teachers, and others? His “BE Series” will remain a classic until the Lord returns. In thirty years of ministry, I’ve never met anyone like him. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t own at least one of his books.
When I say “unique,” “one of a kind,” “incredible,” what I ultimately mean by that is Jesus. He is unique because He is more than a religious leader, teacher, or prophet. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is more than a superstar (with apologies to Andrew Lloyd Webber). He’s the Son of the Living God whom I choose to worship, serve, and love.