Last week in the Blog Post “Perseverance” I talked about how sometimes we go to triathlons and see a person walk up with the best bike, wearing the best clothes, talking the best game, and finishing with one of the worst times. I like to call them “lookers”. From the outside it seems as though they are the best in their field, they talk as if they are the best in the field, like they have it all together, but in reality, they just look the part. Now, it’s not just triathlons where we find these seemingly unique humans, we find them everywhere. The fishing looker, the hunting looker, the golfing looker, or the running looker. If you’re a golfer, then you know the guy who has the best clubs, the best club membership, and the best clothes, but each time he steps up to the tee he drives it thirty yards right into the woods, then continues on as he blames the ball rather than his lack of skill. He’s a looker!
Are you guilty of being a looker? I believe at times we all are. We want to be the best at whatever we’re doing, but often we don’t have the time or discipline to commit to whatever it is that we want to be the best at. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book several years ago called Outliers and in this book he discussed the 10,000-hour principal. The principal is that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” is needed to become world-class at anything. Want to become a world-class guitarist, 10,000 hours, world-class doctor, 10,000 hours, world-class triathlete, 10,000 hours. You get the point. While this principal has been challenged in some areas, I feel that it’s safe to say that if you want to become world-class at something it takes years of hard work and perseverance.
So is it wrong to want to look the part of being world-class? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the message your sending and the motive behind your actions. I’ll be honest; I have a really nice road bike. I love cycling, I love my bike, and I made a decision to purchase a bike that is more than what I need. My bike does not slow me down; in fact, I’m probably one of the slower athletes riding that kind of bike. I’m honest about my motives and the reason I have a nice bike. One is because I don’t want to mislead people, and two, because the athletes that I coach often remind me of my lack of speed as they leave me in their dust on their less expensive bikes.
We must be careful though. Many times a sense of arrogance can come along with being a looker. We want people to think that we are something we’re not and we’ll do anything to make that perception seem like reality.
Unfortunately one group who falls into this trap often is Christians. We get up every Sunday morning, put on our best Sunday clothes, grab our two-hundred dollar Bible that looks brand new, and head out the door. We walk into the church as if everything is perfect, laugh and joke with our friends, amen during the pastor’s sermon, and we never give even the slightest hint that inside our world is crumbling.
Here is where being a “looker” becomes dangerous. It’s dangerous, because unlike my biking abilities that are on display for all my athletes to keep me humble, we often try to hide what’s really going on. As a Christian, the evil one wants nothing more than to silence us. Silence makes us feel that we are the only one who is dealing with this struggle. Silence tends to drive us away from others who “seem” to have it all together. Silence makes us a hypocrite in the eyes of those who actually know our struggles but see the persona that we try to display. Silence can often lead you away from a God who wants nothing more than to make you world-class.
Think about the different areas of your life and take inventory. Take a close look at the image you portray. Is it fake, or is it REAL? Are you wanting to make everyone think you are world class, or are you wanting to look world class with the full humble understanding that you’re not there yet.
While on this earth, we, as Christians, have the ability to “look” like Jesus. Why? Because His word tells us that we, “have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Galatians 2:20. In the same way that I have a bike that can allow me to be fast but I have a set of legs that must be trained in order to be fast, I have a Savior who lives in me that allows me to reflect Him to a lost and dying world, but I must train the body to do so.
It’s OK to “look” the part as long as long as you can “be” the part, and if you can’t be the part, then just be honest about why you want to “look” the part.