Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"If I could be like Mike!"

Remember the commercial, with all the cute little kids playing basketball and the music playing in the background “If I could be like Mike?” I do. In fact, I still want to be like Mike. However, the other day after reading an article from ESPN The Magazine that was written about an interview with Michael Jordan, I changed my mind. In the article MJ compared how the NBA was when he was a rising star to how the NBA is today. He went from being Michael Jordan, a relatively unknown rookie out of UNC, to becoming known worldwide as MJ… mainly because he had a personality that fit the change that the NBA was making at the time. In his own words, the “stars lined up.” Once they had lined up, and the NBA realized what a special opportunity they had, the NBA partnered up with MJ and he became the face of the NBA.

In MJ’s opinion the NBA is now trying to find the next MJ. They are trying to recreate something that happened spontaneously in the past in order to create similar success. They are promoting up and coming stars as the next Jordan, and in essence, pressuring the players to try and fit the MJ mold. Jordan talks about how that is backwards, the NBA should allow the players to develop on their own, to be themselves, to allow their own personality to show through, and once they are established, then partner up with them. Makes sense, right?

I remember when I first went to the Missionary Training Center, I remember feeling as if I had to fit a mold. I felt as if I needed to completely reinvent myself according to the expectations of my teachers and leaders. I tried to do that, and I felt I was making some progress until after one teaching experience, I was told very bluntly how poorly I had taught. I felt like I did alright, like I had somehow filled the mold, the expectations. But in that experience, I realized there was not really a mold for a perfect missionary. I was an individual and was to allow my own personality to shine through as I did the work. I could let my personality show through when I taught, in fact, to be successful, I needed to be true to myself. Not that there were not changes and improvements that I needed to go through, there were and still are plenty to keep me busy, but the process was one that I needed to experience my own way.

The interesting thing is that the Scriptures admonish us to be like Christ. He is the perfect example, and He teaches us to be perfect, even as He and Heavenly Father are perfect. (3 Nephi 12:48) Some have felt a need to rebel against that, stating that diversity is good, and that if we all become like Christ we would lose many of the good things about ourselves. C.S Lewis gives an illustration that show how in our efforts to lose ourselves and become like Christ, we actually allow our own selves to shine brighter.

“Imagine a lot of people who have always lived in the dark. You come and try to describe to them what light is like. You might tell them that if they come into the light that same light would fall on them all and they would all reflect it and thus become what we call visible. Is it not quite possible that they would imagine that, since they were all receiving the same light, and all reacting to tit in the same way (i.e. all reflecting it), they would all look alike? Whereas you and I know that the light will in fact bring out, or show up, how different they are.”

Turns out being like Mike is a completely different process than becoming like our Savior. One process stifles you, while the other sets you free. The only way in which we can be true to ourselves, to truly find out about who we are is to come in the light, the light who is Christ.


Jennifer Nanci Lee said...

very inspiring...

p.s. i like the new template.

Jonathan said...

You are such a stud and a great man!

We should meet up at Fat Anthony's for a board meeting!